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As COVID-19 cases surge, open enrollment period more important than ever
Online-only guest column

As COVID-19 cases surge, open enrollment period more important than ever


The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated Montana, cost hundreds of Montanans their lives and left countless unemployed. For many Montanans, the loss of a job also means the loss of health insurance at a time when access to health care is more important than ever.

Fortunately, we have until Dec. 15 to enroll in health coverage for 2021 through the ACA open enrollment exchange. Despite relentless sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, quality, affordable health plans remain available on the marketplace.

As COVID-19 surges in Montana and across the country, access to health coverage through the Marketplace remains a lifeline and a vital tool in the fight to keep Montanans safe and healthy in 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread job loss across the country and triggered the most significant insurance coverage losses in American history. Despite the unprecedented public health and economic crises facing our country, this administration continues to undermine Americans’ access to affordable health care by limiting the window to sign up for coverage and making it difficult for people to get the information they need to enroll in health coverage. This administration has cut funding for in-person assistance by over 80% and slashed funding for advertising with Open Enrollment information.

The good news is that despite these attacks, federal and state marketplaces are still open to offer Montanans access to high-quality health coverage they can afford. In fact, for the last two years, over 4 million people were able to find plans with $0 monthly premiums. As COVID-19 cases keep spiking and our country faces a period of transition, the open enrollment period provides a lifeline that’s never been more critical for those of us whose lives have been turned upside down during the pandemic.

As a 22-year-old Montanan, the ACA allowed me to stay on my parents’ plan five years longer than I could have before. Pre-ACA, I’d have been kicked off at 18, right out of high school. This year, our plan became too expensive. To save my family money, I decided to get insurance through the Marketplace. If the ACA didn’t exist, I might not have had insurance for the last five years, and I certainly would not have it now. The ACA is essential for protecting access to affordable insurance, especially while Montana is facing a massive public health crisis.

Amanda Levandoski writes from Billings.

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