As federal officials released today the final number of Montanans who bought 2015 health insurance through healthcare.gov, Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen announced that the deadline to sign up for health insurance on the exchange has been extended due to a computer glitch.

Spokeswoman Laura Parvey-Connors said many Montanans had difficulty signing up on the healthcare dot gov website towards the end of the sign-up period.

"Open enrollment closed on February 15, however, they did have a few glitches towards the end, and so they have extended that deadline to February 22nd," Parvey-Connors said. "That's so people who experienced computer glitches, or who were waiting in line to try to buy their health insurance plan could have some extra time to sign up."

In addition to the extended sign-up period, Parvey-Connors said there are other means by which individuals can sign up after the open enrollment period.

"We do want people to know that there is still an option to buy health insurance if they have a qualifying life event throughout the year," she said. "So, if you're getting married, or had a baby, or you move to another area, you can still go through healthcare dot gov and buy a plan."

Numbers released on Wednesday indicate that more than 54,000 Montanans signed up for health insurance through the government website, however, Commissioner Lindeen is researching the numbers of people who chose other ways to purchase health insurance. Her research has noted that considerably more Montanans purchased health insurance through healthcare dot gov this year than last year.

Lindeen said that somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000 Montanans will continue to lack coverage this year because they make too little to qualify for federal tax credits – but too much to qualify for Montana’s Medicaid program. The 2013 Montana Legislature chose not to accept federal dollars to cover those individuals, and the current session is considering the issue yet again.

 

The 2015 Montana Legislature is again debating expanding the Montana Medicaid program, but no decisions have been made.