Volume 47, Number 2, Summer  2009

The Economic Cost of Alcohol Abuse in Montana


Patrick M. Barkey

On a per capita basis, Montana ranks in the top half of states in alcohol consumption, with the 2003 consumption of 435 beers per adult, higher than all but four other states nationwide. This article summarizes a Bureau study, which found that alcohol abuse costs the Montana economy more than a half billion dollars per year in medical costs, lost wages, and productivity.

Housing Affordability and Montan's Real Estate Markets


Patrick M. Barkey and James T. Sylvester

Housing prices in the last 20 years have surged ahead much faster than the income used to pay them. Over the span of time that the median price for a Montana home grew by 96 percent, the per capita income of Montanans only rose by about a quarter as much, or 26 percent. Housing costs are pushing the limits of Montanans' pocketbooks, with four markets (Kalispell, Bozeman, Missoula, and Hamilton) failing the housing affordability criterion.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Could Montana's New Partnership Plan Have Helped the Smiths?


Jerry Furniss and Michael Harrington

Montana recently joined 29 other states by having regulations in place for insurers to offer long-term care insurance partnership plans. New partnership laws encourage individuals to purchase long-term health insurance, thereby protecting assets and reducing the burden on Medicaid. This article discusses the situation of newly-retired Bob Smith, who has just suffered a massive stroke and does not have long-term care health insurance.

Pre-Existing Health Conditions Limit Job Flexibility


Gregg Davis

Nearly 47,000 Montanans identify themselves as having pre-existing health conditions that limit their ability to either buy insurance or switch health insurance carriers, and some say this restricts their job flexibility. Because of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, heart conditions, and even pregnancy, a significant number of Montanans feel that they need to stay in their current jobs and health care situation.

Four-Wheeling: Off-Highway Vehicle Use Growing


James T. Sylvester

Four-wheeling through mud, snow, and woodsy trails continues to grow in popularity in Montana, with the state's off-highway vehicle (OHV) owners spending nearly $123 million during 2008 and paying more than $1.4 million in to the highway trust fund via gasoline taxes. But a recent survey of OHV recreationists found that the sport is thriving amidst worry from enthusiasts that growth will hamper access because of poor behavior from a few riders.