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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

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Montana Life and Health Guarantee Association

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: I live in Montana and applied for basic health insurance. I got my packet and cards in the mail but the disclaimer on the back says "coverage is not provided by the Montana Life and Health insurance guaranty association for your policy or contract or any portion of it under which the risk is borne by you, the policyholder. Does this mean I cannot use the plan? I thought it was available to Montanans.

A: Supplemental health insurance like "Basic Health Insurance" is meant to be easy and inexpensive. Supplemental insurance is exempt from many of the legal provisions that control other types of health insurance and it so difficult and unaffordable. One of the differences, as mentioned in this case, is that supplemental insurance is not included under each state's guarantee association program. What this means to you is that in the unlikely event that the primary insurance company (Markel Insurance) goes bankrupt, the state of Montana does not step up to guarantee that your claims are paid. There are also other legal differences between Basic Health Insurance and other types of regular health insurance under Montana law. These distinctions make Basic Health Insurance attractive to people who have problems with other types of health insurance. The important thing is to understand what insurance options are available to you and the limitations of the insurance coverage that you have. Be sure to understand that Basic Health Insurance is not comparable to regular major medical insurance in terms of the amount and range of coverage provided. This is why it is called a "supplemental insurance" even though some people who cannot afford any other health insurance use it as a temporary alternative to having no coverage at all.


More resources:

Basic Health Insurance State Insurance Guarantee Associations