Obama to offer federal health insurance to firefighters battling western blazes

President Obama is extending the option to buy federal health insurance to seasonal firefighters battling blazes across Colorado and other western states.

The offer was made through an executive order and follows the president’s recent visit to Colorado Springs where he met some of the estimated 15,000 men and women battling deadly and destructive wildfires.

A White House aide told FoxNews.com the change would be made through an executive order and an official announcement could come as early as Wednesday. The Denver Post first reported the change Tuesday.

Under the federal program, insurance through a major carrier would cost a single firefighter in Colorado roughly $82 a month, and a firefighter with a family $185 a month. The federal government would pay $246 and $550, respectively, according to the federal Office of Personnel Management.

The firefighters reportedly would be eligible for the insurance by the end of the month. The western firefighters typically are part-time workers who are often college students or employees at ski resorts during the colder seasons. However, Change.org, where several petition drives have been launched to get insurance for the firefighters, notes that some are adults with families.

The petition drives have appealed to Congress and to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to extend the option to get medical and/or life insurance policies through the state.