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Open Enrollment for individual health plans is a shopping period lasting only six weeks (Nov. 1- Dec. 15) and is the only time, outside of having a special exception, families and those with individual health insurance policies are able to purchase a health coverage plan for the upcoming year.

Thanks to multiple programs, thousands of Montanans are able to obtain coverage for no monthly premium, and many others pay only $30 or $75 a month; the cost depends upon your income, age, and which plan you choose.

Unlike some neighboring states, Montanans once again have a choice of three different insurance carriers, each of whom offers multiple plans and benefits. Having three companies allows us to compete in the marketplace, which is good for you, the consumer.

This year, there's even more reason to sign up: Thanks to the 2019 Montana Legislature, our insurance commissioner, and our governor, Montana created a reinsurance program which brought rates down even further for all carriers.

Still, Montanans need to beware of the empty promises of "limited benefit" and "short-term" policies that leave significant gaps in care and can wreak havoc on one's medical expenses with little notice. Don't get caught without coverage when you need it most. Work with your insurers to carefully re-evaluate coverage options and purchase insurance that will protect you.

We encourage anyone in need of coverage to learn about coverage options, assistance programs, and costs by visiting healthcare.gov or contacting an insurance agent. Both are free to use and will show you all of your options. Additionally, representatives at our companies are always happy to walk you through the choices available.

Time is running out to get your new coverage! Remember, December 15 is the deadline for selecting coverage on the individual marketplace for the 2020 year. Contact someone about health insurance today!

Richard Miltenberger

Montana Health Co-op

Cody Langbehn

Pacific Source Health Plans

Mike Frank

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana

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Opinion Editor

Opinion editor for The Billings Gazette.