NEW STUDY: Montanans’ Access to Health Care Among Nation’s Worst

A new study has found that Montanans’ access to health care is among the worst in the U.S.

The July 2014 report by the Commonwealth Fund found that only three states had worse access to health care than Montanans–Idaho, Wyoming, and Alaska, as you can see in this chart.

The information shows that what the TEA party extremists did by refusing to accept the federal funds to cover the working poor was an especially poor decision in Montana, where the lack of access to health care is particularly bad.   You can read the whole study here.

Chart Health Care Access


Remember, the Medicaid expansion covers the working poor, people who earn “too much” to qualify for Medicaid now but don’t make enough to qualify for a price break through

The earnings ceiling for the coverage gap in Montana is $11,490 a year for a single person. If you make more than this, you could get a price break through the marketplace.

Earning $11,000 a year works out to a monthly income of $916.

  • Average rent for a (cheap, dilapidated) one-bedroom apartment in South Billings/Lockwood: $480/month. $436 left over…
  • Grocery bills: $125/month (Ramen noodles, 20 lb bag of potatoes). $311 left over…
  • Car insurance: $66/month. $245 left over…
  • Gas: $72/month (assuming 300 miles/month, or 10 miles/day to get to your job). $173 left over…
  • Clothing/Sundry items (shampoo, light bulbs, stamps): $25/month. $148 left over…
  • Entertainment: $15/month (1DVD rental on Sat night only). $133/month left over…
  • Utilities: $30/month (or a cheap cell phone). $103/month left over…
  • Savings/Debt: $50/month (making a future, or correcting the past–being responsible) $53/month left over…

That leaves about $53 to buy health insurance if nothing else goes wrong in your life–your car never breaks down, you never go to the dentist, etc.

The cheapest Bronze-level unsubsidized health insurance plan for a 40-year old in Yellowstone is $205/month – or four times more than what this person has left over for health insurance. Even on a bare bones budget without cable, an iPhone or a sports car–Montanans in the coverage gap can’t afford insurance thanks to the Montana legislature.

Remember, this single individual isn’t eligible for subsidies on the Affordable Care Act marketplace because those are only for people who make more than $11,490 per year.  So this person must pay the unsubsidized price.

Montana’s legislators need a reality check. They’ve made it so there is no path for a working poor person in Montana to do the responsible thing by getting health coverage.  This person has only one option:  pray they don’t get sick.

If your legislator doesn’t get it, she or he needs to be replaced.


30 Comments on "NEW STUDY: Montanans’ Access to Health Care Among Nation’s Worst"

  1. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | August 21, 2014 7:59 AM at 7:59 AM |

    Thank you. THIS is exactly what I’ve been saying about Obamacare for a long time. It’s NOT affordable and it’s NOT care to most folks I know. With a twelve thousand dollar deductible, what the hell good is it? It was Mini Barfus’s departing gift to his insurance industry buddies! That’s why is was good to see Gen. Wishly Walshy go. He was Mini’s cammo twin!

    Maybe with Amanda Curtis in there, we can finally work toward real heath care. You know, like the REST of the entire world has!

  2. This is what we get when GOP screaming and doing everything to DENY any form of healthcare, and the LARGEST death panel (the phrase coined by the Tea Party) is the GOP controlled legislature! Max certainly
    didn’t help with his inarticulate and goofy gaffs.

  3. This is what you get when you elect people who are only capable of thumping their chests about their hatred of Obama and not actually thinking. I’m so fucking sick of these morons.

  4. My comment is awaiting moderation??

  5. We talked about this on my site in an article entitled “Healthcare in Montana is a Joke,” which it is, and the Democratic chances in the legislature are also a joke because they’ve decided not to figure out ways Montana residents will pay for this.

    Helluva strategy. What’s especially laughable is that young people can’t even pay off their student loans and are defaulting like crazy. So they’re just going to come up with $250 extra each month?

    This is the mindset you’re dealing with when it comes to elected officials and our nation’s leaders. They’re 100% clueless and living in the clouds.

  6. Please stop. You’ll notice all the states with the most difficult access are large states with small populations. When you have a state where much of the population lives away from an urban center, it inherently makes it difficult to access health care. Medicaid dollars wouldn’t solve this. Just having a voucher or card that says Medicaid will pay for your care doesn’t magically make more doctors, nurses or health care operations closer to your home when you live in a rural state.

    Poor analysis and loss of credibility just to score political points. You miss the opportunity to talk about real solutions when you can’t help yourself but make this partisan, when it clearly isn’t.

    • Tim:

      Generally it’s not a good idea to go around spouting nonsense with no data to back it up.

      The facts show otherwise. In fact a statewide audit of Montana’s primary care capacity shows that we have a surplus of providers – more than enough to meet the need of expansion.

      From a UM audit of the Economic Ramifications Attributable to the Potential Medicaid Expansion on the Montana Economy
      Bureau of Business and Economic Research Report (PDF)

      Slideshow (PDF)

      Primary Care Demand, including Medicaid and Federally Facilitated Exchange

      MT annual primary care supply: 2,079,000 visits available
      MT primary care total demand under ACA and Medicaid expansion: 1,997,093 visits needed
      Total surplus primary care visits +81,907

      Unlike some, I cite my sources…

      • How smarmy.

        You didn’t deal with any of my points and just posted one study that said there are slightly more primary care hours available than would be eaten up by Medicaid patients. I never said it wasn’t. I said that the large geography of the state means that although statewide there may be cumulatively more primary care hours, those are concentrated in just a few urban centers. This doesn’t help people in rural areas, who may be hours away from a hospital or primary care center. Just like requiring someone to have health insurance doesn’t magically make them any closer to a primary care center. Just as I mentioned, most of the states she cited are ones with large geographies and small populations. Try to at least rebute what I was claiming, instead of throwing slides up that don’t relate to what I said.
        Here’s the Association of Montana Health Care providers backing what I said:
        “At least 52 of the 56 counties in Montana are federally designated in part or total as primary-care physician shortage areas.”
        “61 % of primary care physicians practice in just 5 counties.”
        Here’s a report put out by the DPHHS:
        The blurbs about the health care shortages and high level of providers nearing retirement age starts about page 11.
        Stop being a smarmy cunt just cause you found a slide online giving you some vague statistic that proves your own confirmation bias. Large cities having great health care coverage doesn’t do jack shit for people in rural areas, and imposing things like health care costs on them they wouldn’t ordinarily have, and can’t use because of where they live, isn’t helping poor and middle income people, it’s only putting more burdens on them.

  7. It is so Important to get everyone covered. And it can be done if Legislators are truly looking to protect the citizens of this State.

    • But it can’t. November, December, January…maybe the 2015 legislature could pass something early January. Would that mean I don’t have to pay $250 come February? Still, where is the other $750 coming from, and right before Christmas?

      What if it passes in April? So that’s November, December, January, February, March, April…6 months. I’m supposed to come up with $1,500 extra between now and then to pay for health insurance, er…sorry, supplement health insurance for you old folks.

      How is this going to work in Montana if you’re poor?

  8. I don’t know where the $12,000 deductible came from (it’s far less, depending on the plan), but no one considers Obamacare to be an absolute solution to the health care problem. However, with Medicaid expansion it would be a giant step forward. The figures I read stated that the federal gov’t pays the tab for 4 years, and 90% after that, the thought being that Medicaid will pay for itself after that. Today we have 70,000 uninsured whose only option when they’re sick or injured is the emergency room – which charges 4 to 10 times the normal doctor visit. If these people have a barebones plan, they will at least be able to visit a doctor when they’re sick, saving the counties and state millions.

    Eventually, we can ease our way into a single-payer system with physicians and clinics tending to the needs of everyone. No one will face bankruptcy because they can’t pay their hospital bill. Obamacare was not promoted well…they should have defined it as “Medicare for all, with a PRIVATE option,” leaving the door open for naysayers to continue dealing with the monolithic insurers if they choose.

    • Saving the county and state taxpayers millions. I have no money right now, so saving the county (which takes so much here in Missoula already) doesn’t really concern me.

      Where is this monthly premium coming from? Most students can’t pay their loans? Are you living in some alternate reality where our current laws of mathematics don’t apply? Who’s going to pay for you Walt, making up the cost that people like me don’t? Or are you just going to pay a higher monthly premium each year until 2016 when the fine become so much most young people will finally sign-up?

      I really, really wish Democrats had a plan for this come November, but they don’t. They have no plan whatsoever, and instead of trying to come up with one, they’ve buried their head in the sands.

      This is the leadership Democrats give us today in America.

      • Greg, I really wish you’d take the time to educate yourself. First, if you don’t think saving the taxpayers (you are one, whether you like it or not) money, you are seriously misguided. Second, that’s where Medicaid comes in. For people like you, who can’t afford a premium, it will be subsidized by people like me. That’s great. I’m paying for your healthcare anyway, unless you’re paying cash as you go, but you say you have no money so that’s not very likely. And there’s a (controversial) item called the individual mandate which “encourages” people who can afford to buy insurance – but choose not to because they’re bullet-proof – to enroll, thereby offsetting the cost of extending Medicaid. It’s really not rocket science.

  9. Gary you really should try to educate yourself. First, saving the county (or the city, or the state, or the country) money means that we pay less in taxes – not more. Second, the whole purpose of Medicaid expansion is so that people like you – who can’t afford the premiums – can still have access to health care. There’s a thing called the individual mandate which “encourages” people, who can afford to pay for insurance but choose not to because they’re bullet-proof, to buy a policy to offset the cost of subsidizing people like you. It’s not rocket science, it’s just buried under all the conservative bull-shit.

  10. Sorry for the duplication…the first thread was (seemingly) lost, but when I posted the second, the original magically re-appeared.

  11. It just strikes me as odd that it was a key committee vote by a Democrat, Jacobson of Great Falls, that kept Medicaid in committee and essentially defeated it. Think about it – the critical, key juncture vote, and the guy makes a “mistake”? I know Democrats way too well. Mistake, or Democrat deceit? We will neve rknow, but I do look forward, someday, to a mistake that favors progressives.

    • It was a mistake, because NO way the teabaggers would let any healthcare bill get to the governor. I’m sure
      GOP extremists had ‘other’ delaying and stalling tactics ready to implement, as we saw with GOP Senator
      Alan Olson’s failed efforts at a bill to kill same-day voter registration, so instead Olson took the ‘long way’ around with a legislative referendum for voters to consider on killing same-day voter registration.

  12. I’ll Say! They are never cutting me open, HERE! Why do you think I went to Stanford? BTW, I am working for Amanda! ;-)

  13. I am desperate for health care. I have multiple sclerosis, diagnosed a year ago. I was patiently waiting to see if medicaid expansion would make the ballot. I cannot afford insurance. I work right now, but I cannot much longer. I went to an urgent care center in my town and begged for them to help me. Yes, begged. I have been in severe pain for weeks living on advil and tylenol in large doses. They would not see me. I had a friend take me to St. Josephs up near Ronan. A doctor saw me but said he could not do much as I need a neurologist.

    This is going to force me to have to relocate to a state that expanded. I cry every single day about having to leave my lifelong home. I’m in a bad situation, and no one cares, and that is that.

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