Morrison Announces ‘Top Five List’ of Options for Uninsured Montanans
Cover The Uninsured Week Spotlights National Crisis; Auditor Morrison Outlines Top Five Options in Montana for Uninsured
Helena, Mont., April 28, 2006 – As Cover the Uninsured Week kicks off nationally next week, Montana State Auditor John Morrison issued his ‘Top Five List’ highlighting options for uninsured Montanans seeking health care solutions.
“This list outlines some of the best kept secrets in health care options for uninsured Montanans,” said Morrison. “Although we are always working to get the word out about these options, work in this area is never done because there are more Montanans out there who need to know about some of these health care options.”
Morrison’s list is based on programs that provide assistance to uninsured and underinsured Montanans where there are unfilled slots available.
Over the course of Cover the Uninsured Week, Morrison will highlight details of each option featured on his Top Five List. Following is the list with a brief explanation and a website where more information can be found.
1. Insure Montana: www.insuremontana.org
Insure Montana is a joint initiative of Governor Brian Schweitzer and State Auditor John Morrison that is administered by the State Auditor’s Office. This is two part program that is designed to assist small businesses with the cost of health insurance, whether they have provided health insurance previously or not. To spotlight this program, Auditor Morrison will present the Insure Montana Outstanding Agent Award to Great Falls agent Mark Tracy at the business of an Insure Montana member on the first day of Cover the Uninsured Week. The event will be on Monday, May 1 at 10 am at Roger’s Jewelers at 1205 3rd Street NW in Great Falls.
There are approximately 200 additional openings in the Insure Montana tax credit program and up to 150 additional openings in the Insure Montana purchasing pool program. Small businesses of two to five employees may contact the program for eligibility requirements.
2. Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): www.insurekidsnow.gov
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is designed for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet cannot afford to buy private insurance for their children. CHIP coverage provides eligible children with coverage for a full range of health services including regular checkups, immunizations, and more.
There are nearly 1,500 additional openings for children in the CHIP program.
3. Medicare Part D/ Big Sky Rx: www.medicare.gov; www.bigskyrx.mt.gov
Medicare prescription drug coverage is available to everyone with Medicare, regardless of income, health status, or how you pay for prescription drugs today.
As of April 20, nearly 60,000 eligible Montanans have not yet signed up for this important coverage.
Big Sky Rx is a state program to help pay drug-coverage premiums for eligible Montanans enrolled in a prescription drug plan under Medicare Part D. The program, created by the 2005 Legislature and funded with tobacco tax revenue, has availability for 20,000 participants.
As of March 23, there were 1,670 people enrolled in the program leaving over 18,000 slots available.
4. Montana Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA): www.mthealth.org
MCHA provides comprehensive health insurance to individuals denied coverage by private carriers. High-risk individuals and those suffering from serious health problems are among those who benefit from this insurance plan. The MCHA also is the coverage available to persons who are leaving group coverage and is sometimes referred to as Montana’s “high-risk” pool.
In early April, the MCHA board authorized funding for 80 additional slots in the premium assistance program.
5. Montana Community Health Centers: www.mtpca.org/mtcenters.htm
The Montana Primary Care Association (MPCA) is a non-profit organization of ambulatory health care providers whose primary purpose is to serve Montana's medically unserved and underserved residents without financial or other discrimination. General medical services such as immunizations or dental work may be available for low or no fee.
“Living without health coverage is like playing Russian roulette – it’s a gamble that no one should have to take," said Morrison. "That is why it is so important that Montanans take full advantage of existing programs offering assistance. We need to ensure that no one misses an opportunity to obtain low-cost or free coverage simply because they didn’t know about it."
Montanans can also explore health insurance options with a licensed agent specializing in health insurance. "We strongly encourage consumers to shop around before they commit to a policy," Morrison says. "We also encourage consumers to call my office to confirm the legitimacy of a policy before moving forward.”
About “Cover the Uninsured Week”: May 1-7, 2006
Co-chaired by former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, Cover the Uninsured Week is the largest mobilization in our nation’s history on behalf of the uninsured. Events being held in communities across the country will focus on the fact that too many Americans are uninsured. There are nearly 46 million Americans without health care coverage. Reversing this disturbing trend, elevating this issue on the national and local agenda and educating Americans about the problem are the goals of Cover the Uninsured Week 2006.