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This story is excerpted from the MT Lowdown, a weekly newsletter digest containing original reporting and analysis published every Friday.

The enrollment period that lets Americans purchase health insurance coverage for the next year through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace is open now until Jan. 15.

An estimated 50,000 Montanans are covered through the marketplace, according to the health care advocacy group Cover Montana, an increase from about 41,500 in 2020. Roughly 85% of those insurance holders have been eligible for reduced rates because of their income and household size. 

If you’re among the Montanans who’s facing health insurance instability as the state trims back its Medicaid enrollment, the enrollment period might be an opportunity for you to find an affordable plan. More than 92,000 people have been removed from the state’s Medicaid rolls between April and August because of the ongoing mass-review of eligibility happening nationwide. Nearly 64% of those removals in Montana have lost coverage because they failed to return requested paperwork by the state health department’s deadlines.


Medicaid ‘unwinding’ breeds chaos in states

Seven months into what was predicted to be the biggest upheaval in the 58-year history of the government health insurance program for people with low incomes and disabilities, states have reviewed the eligibility of more than 28 million people and terminated coverage for more than 10 million of them. Millions more are expected to lose Medicaid in the coming months.

If you want to consider signing up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, here’s where to start:

  • Gather the materials you’ll need to fill out the necessary paperwork (household information, social security numbers of your dependents, wage and salary amounts, etc.).
  • Create an account in the marketplace system.
  • Browse plans for 2024. Depending on your income, you may be eligible for federal subsidies that can reduce your monthly fee and qualify you for lower deductibles and copays.
  • Decide which plan works best for you and sign up. 

If you’re still learning about health insurance or want a refresher, Cover Montana has a good summary of the basic information you should know. To get an idea of what subsidies you might be eligible for, check out this cost calculator from KFF, the health policy and research group. And if you want to find help with your application in your local area, you can search for nearby navigators on Cover Montana’s website. 


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Mara writes about health and human services stories happening in local communities, the Montana statehouse and the court system. She also produces the Shared State podcast in collaboration with MTPR and YPR. Before joining Montana Free Press, Mara worked in podcast and radio production at Slate and WNYC. She was born and raised in Helena, MT and graduated from Seattle University in 2016.