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View our comprehensive guides to coverage in Montana

Individual and Family

The American Rescue Plan's premium-cutting subsidies

Find out how the American Rescue Plan will drastically cut marketplace health insurance costs for Montanans from Billings, to Missoula, Bozeman and beyond. Enroll now during ACA open enrollment (through January 15 in most states).

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Individual and Family

Short-term coverage in Montana

Consumers in Montana can purchase short-term health plans with  initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months. Read more about short-term health insurance in Montana.

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Medicaid in Montana

Montana implemented the ACA's eligibility expansion in 2016 and as a result, 96,000 Montanans were enrolled by 2019. Read more about Medicaid expansion in Montana.

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Medicare enrollment in Montana

As of May 2020, 234,867 Montana residents were enrolled in Medicare plans. Read more about Medicare enrollment in Montana, including the state’s rules for Medigap plans.

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Flexible dental benefits. Fast approval.

Protect yourself from the soaring costs of dental procedures. Compare plan options to see premiums and deductibles that fit your budget.

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Frequently asked questions about health insurance
coverage options in Montana

The health insurance marketplace, or health insurance exchange, was created by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The marketplace is an avenue to get coverage for people who are self-employed or work for an organization that doesn’t provide health benefits. The federal government operates Montana’s marketplace, which means individuals can enroll themselves or their families at

The ACA mandates essential benefits that must be covered on marketplace plans. The available health plan options and premium costs offered on the marketplace vary from one year to the next, and if you had a change in income change, you may qualify for a different level of subsidies or cost-sharing reductions.

Read our overview of the Montana health insurance marketplace – including news updates and exchange history.

For Montana residents who buy their own health insurance, the open enrollment period for 2022 coverage runs from November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022. This is a month longer than the enrollment window was in previous years, but enrollments will still need to be completed by December 15 if you want your coverage to take effect January 1 (enrollments submitted after December 15 will have coverage effective in February).

The open enrollment period is a great opportunity to take advantage of the American Rescue Plan’s subsidy enhancements. Even if you weren’t subsidy-eligible in prior years, you may find that you are eligible for a subsidy to offset the cost of 2022 coverage.

Outside of the annual open enrollment period, applicants need a qualifying event in order to enroll in coverage or switch to a different plan. If you still need coverage for the remainder of 2021, you may be able to enroll if you have a qualifying event or if you’ve received unemployment compensation at any point in 2021.

For 2022, Montana’s individual market insurers have implemented an average rate increase of about half a percent, although two of the three insurers reduced their average rates. 

The year before, for 2021 coverage, average rates increased by about 1.4%, which was very much in line with the overall average rate increase in the individual market nationwide

During the open enrollment period for 2021 coverage, 44,711 people enrolled in private individual/family plans through Montana’s exchange. That was an increase of about 2% over the year before, but it was still down about 23% from peak enrollment in 2016. 

During the COVID-related enrollment window in 2021, more than 7,600 people enrolled in plans through Montana’s exchange. This was more than double the normal enrollment volume during the same timeframe, when a qualifying life event would normally be necessary in order to enroll. 

The Affordable Care Act established a federal loan program to encourage the creation of nonprofit, consumer-run health insurance issuers – called Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs). By January of 2013, 23 CO-OPs had received loans totaling $1.98 billion, including more than $85 million for the Montana Health CO-OP, which offers coverage in both Montana and Idaho.

By the end of 2016, the majority of ACA CO-OPs had closed, and only three remain operational as of 2021. Montana Health CO-OP is among the three surviving CO-OPs, and it has about 36% of Montana’s individual market share.

Montana Health CO-OP has also expanded over the years (as Mountain Health CO-OP), selling plans in Idaho, and as of 2021, also in Wyoming.

In 2010, Montana’s U.S. Senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, voted to approve the health reform law. But Denny Rehberg, Montana’s sole representative in the U.S. House, voted against the ACA. Baucus and Rehberg are no longer in Congress.

Senator Steve Daines, who replaced Baucus, has voted to repeal Obamacare. After Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke became Secretary of the Interior in the Trump administration, Montana’s lone House of Representatives seat was vacant. Republican Greg Gianforte ultimately won the election to replace Zinke in the House. Gianforte opposes the ACA and wants to repeal it. (His opponent, Democrat Rob Quist, supported the ACA, but wanted to take it a step further, to a single-payer health care system.)

In the 2020 election, Gianforte successfully ran for governor of Montana, and Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale successfully ran to replace Gianforte in the House of Representatives. Rosendale has long been an outspoken critic of the ACA, as described below.

At the state level, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer and former Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen were supportive of the ACA, but the state legislature was not. Two bills that would have created a state-run exchange failed in Montana in 2011, while a bill banning the creation of a state-run exchange passed. That bill (SB 228) was ultimately vetoed by Schweitzer, but in late 2012 Montana officially announced that it would default to a federally-facilitated exchange run by HHS.

Gov. Steve Bullock took office in 2013. He was supportive Obamacare and worked to improve access to health care. On April 29, 2015, he signed Senate Bill 405 into law, which made Montana the 29th state to expand Medicaid. CMS approved a waiver that included deviations from standard Medicare expansion.

Lindeen was term-limited in 2016, and was replaced as Insurance Commissioner by Matt Rosendale, who opposes the ACA and wants a more conservative, “free-market,” Montana-based approach to health care reform. In a letter to U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R, Tennessee) in March 2017, Rosendale detailed his proposals (which include the sale of non-ACA-compliant plans in Montana), and noted that his letter superseded a letter Lindeen wrote in late 2016, which took an opposing perspective.

As of 2021, Rosendale is the US House Rep. for Montana, and Troy Downing has taken his place as the state’s insurance commissioner. Downing is also opposed to the ACA.

Initially, Montana did not move forward with Medicaid expansion, which meant there was no financial assistance available for people with incomes below the poverty level who did not qualify for Medicaid coverage under the state’s existing guidelines. But in 2015, Gov. Steve Bullock signed an expansion bill into law, and on November 2, 2015, CMS approved Montana’s Medicaid expansion waiver.

The state renewed funding for Medicaid expansion in 2019, but included a work requirement provision. The work requirement proposal was still pending when the Biden administration took office, and the new administration notified Montana officials (as well as officials in other states with pending or approved Medicaid work requirements) that they would be reviewing work requirement proposals and likely to rescind those that had already been approved. Medicaid work requirements were already essentially on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and none were in effect in 2021 even before HHS began rescinding approvals that had been previously granted in other states.

The state’s average monthly Medicaid enrollment grew by 94% from late 2013 to May 2021.

Read more about Medicaid expansion in Montana.

Montana defers to new federal rules for short-term health plans, with plans now allowed to have initial terms of up to 364 days, and total duration, including renewals, of up to 36 months.

But all of the short-term plans available in Montana as of 2021 have six-month terms (insurers can choose to offer coverage with shorter durations than the maximum allowed under state/federal rules).

Read more about short-term health insurance in Montana.

As of August 2021, 243,839 Montana residents were enrolled in Medicare plans. Montana residents can enroll in private Medicare Advantage plans instead of Original Medicare, and 23% did so as of August 2021 (quite a bit lower than the national average of 43% at that point).

Read more about Medicare enrollment in Montana, including the state’s rules for Medigap plans.

When it comes to health insurance in Montana, we’re the voice of experience.

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Talking about health insurance since 1994.
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