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Obamacare in Montana

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Not everyone made the new year's deadline to sign up for health insurance.   Brenda Brackin needed a little more time to think it over before picking a plan.  That's why she's back at the Health Department for a little more help.

"I wasn't sure how to go about signing up for Obamacare so I came here, and the reason that I came here is because for years, I mean probably 30 years, I've been without health insurance," says Brackin. 

Nationwide, one million people signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act as of Christmas Eve.   The Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services got more than 6,500 applications for insurance, translating into about 13,000 Montanans.  Of those, less than 10,000 were deemed eligible to enroll. Almost 5,000 of those people enrolled with financial aid-like tax credits. These numbers, however, only include October and November's enrollment, not December's. That figure will not be known until later this month.

North Valley Hospital Spokeswoman, Catherine Todd says, "It's really too soon to understand what's going to happen as it affects the hospital." 

So far, North Valley Hospital hasn't hit any snags. 

"We may see people coming in with insurance, but then unable to pay for that co-insurance and the deductibles, which means we in turn as a hospital may see our bad debt rise," says Todd. 

Bad debt meaning whatever patients can't or won't pay. Right now, North Valley is working on getting the patient portal up-and-running by February 1st. Part of the Affordable Care Act requires anyone accepting medicare money to set up an online system where people can login and access their own medical records.  From both sides of care, things seem to be on track.

Todd adds, "I am excited and a little scared being honest, but I am excited. Yes, it is a big deal." 

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