Survey Research Program

Surveying the State of Health Insurance

BBER Research Fills Gaps in Knowledge of Health Insurance in Montana

Over the next decade, the Affordable Care Act will transform the health care landscape each year as new provisions take effect. In a quest to understand the challenges ahead in providing health insurance to Montanans, Monica Lindeen, the state’s Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, sought the help of the Survey Research Center at the University of Montana-Missoula Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

The results of the research team’s expertise and persistence will be published in the forthcoming 2011 Health Insurance Study, a report designed to help policy-makers and health planners examine the efficiency, capacity, and flexibility of Montana’s health insurance system to meet current needs and future demands.

The purpose of the 2011 Health Insurance Study was fourfold:

  • To study the insured, underinsured and uninsured Montanans,

  • Estimate how the Affordable Care Act will effect Montana’s insurance market,

  • Conduct a formal assessment of cycling, and

  • Study Montana’s current insurance market.

Much of the information needed to fulfill these goals is only available through primary research. BBER conducted two surveys for the project. The first was a survey of 2,306 Montana households asking about their health insurance situation. The second was a survey of 516 Montana employers asking about health insurance as an employee benefit.

The household telephone survey provides a model of different groups of Montanans and their current insurance coverage status. The survey explores how different groups are insured and why the uninsured are not insured. The business survey filled in gaps in our knowledge about Montana business’s offering of health insurance to their employees

Data from the surveys were used to develop a profile of the insurance status of Montana residents. An extensive literature search was combined with these profiles to derive estimates of the effects the Affordable Care Act would have on the Montana insurance market.

As Montana’s leaders look to take charge of coming changes in health care, BBER is helping to ensure that they go forward armed with the best data possible to inform their decisions.