Montana residents who lose insurance due to the COVID-19 crisis are eligible for free assistance from a local non-profit agency, Montana Navigator. The agency receives federal funding to assist consumers with enrolling in Medicaid or in private health insurance through provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Most consumers sign up during the annual open enrollment period, but there are circumstances that trigger a special enrollment period. One of those circumstances is insurance loss due to a job loss. As an unprecedented number of people in the state lose their job, and possibly their health insurance, calls for help are expected to surge.
Jeremy Smith, program director for Montana Navigator, says that while it is always vital to have health insurance, it is even more crucial now. He said, “Although the federal government has made sure COVID-19 testing is free, associated treatment usually is not. Those without insurance who are hospitalized may end up with large bills. Completely aside from COVID, people will continue to get sick or injured and need care.” Smith says that 8 in 10 applicants qualify for financial help in obtaining health care coverage through the private marketplace. He added that those who are at a low income level may qualify for Medicaid, and his staff can help with enrollment in that program as well. He said, “We can process Medicaid enrollments over the phone, so an office visit isn’t necessary.” Montana residents can call 1-877-568-NAVI for assistance. Montana Navigator is open 9-5, Monday through Friday. More information is available at ACAnavigator.com.