Thirty Thousand More

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Montana saw net increase population with health insurance coverage

HELENA, Mont. – Montana saw a net increase of more than 30,000 people gaining health insurance coverage in 2014, according to preliminary statistics from the office of Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen.

Lindeen’s office surveyed Montana’s insurance companies after the end of the national open enrollment period ended this spring. They also included new enrollees in the state Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids programs, all in an effort toward quantifying the effect of the Affordable Care Act on reducing the number of uninsured Montanans.

Their analysis, released in part Tuesday to the Legislative Economic Affairs Interim Committee, concluded that the population with healthcare coverage in Montana has grown by about 30,000 people. Previously, Montana had an estimated uninsured population of about 195,000 people, or about 20 percent of the state population. Due to the net growth of covered individuals, that rate is now about 16.9 percent.

“Most of our uninsured population are hard-working Montanans,” Lindeen said. “They are fathers and mothers and taxpayers who help support government healthcare coverage programs for the poor and elderly – yet don’t have health insurance, themselves. I’m glad to see more Montanans gaining access to affordable healthcare.”

According to Lindeen’s study, there was an increase of 26,429 in the individual insurance market, a term that refers to families or individuals buying insurance for themselves in the open insurance market. The Montana Medicaid program saw an increase of another 8,739. Montana saw a decrease of about 5,150 insureds in the small group market, which is insurance purchased by small employers for their employees. Most of those people are believed to have migrated to the individual market, rather than slipped into the population of the insured.

The total net gain of insured Montanans is estimated at 30,018, although the study cautions that insurance is complicated and it is impossible to peg with certainty the precise number of insured Montanans at any point in time.