More Montanans sign up for federal health care

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The number of Montanans to sign up for insurance on the federal exchange increased somewhat in November, even as the website was plagued with slow operations.

According to federal data released Wednesday, 1,382 Montana residents had selected a marketplace plan under the law as of Nov. 30.

A month earlier, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 212 people in the state had signed up for health insurance during the first month of open enrollment.

The numbers reflected a national trend.

About 137,000 people had completed the full process to get coverage across the 36 states using the federal website, a group that includes Montana. That’s up from about 27,000 in October.

Overall, including the states that decided to run their own marketplace website, about 365,000 people had signed up for private coverage, up from 106,000 in October.

Health and Human Services said that at least 1.9 million people appear to be waiting to sign up, or waiting to pick a plan.

In Montana, more than 13,000 people have applied for coverage, and 9,600 of those were deemed eligible for a marketplace plan. About half of those were eligible for federal subsidies to buy the private insurance. Some of those are shoppers who could still buy the insurance prior to the January deadline to have coverage.

The update showed that 637 of those who applied were found to be eligible for other, cheaper, programs like Medicaid or the Children’s Health insurance Program.

The marketplace offers health insurance options for people who are uninsured or who currently pay for individual policies, rather than getting insurance through their jobs. Three companies in Montana are offering coverage.

Problems continued to plague the website last month. Montana was one of the states that rejected the offer to set up its own state-run website, and left it to the federal government to figure out.

Federal officials say they expect the pace of enrollments to pick up around the country because many of the computer glitches were repaired within recent weeks.

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