health insurance

03054 CSR payments                                             8-11-17 ddt

North Dakota’s Insurance Commissioner said health insurance companies are wondering if the “CSR” payments from the federal government will continue.

“CSR” stands for “Cost Sharing Reductions.” It’s part of the Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies get direct payments to help low-income people cover the costs of co-insurance and deductibles.

President Trump has threatened to withhold those payments, after attempts to repeal and replace the ACA have failed.

ND Legislature

An interim legislative committee has begun its study of health insurance for state employees.

The Health Care Reform Review Committee will be looking at the state's current plan -- a hybrid between fully-funded and self -funded -- a full-funded plan, or a self-insurance proposal.

That panel was assigned the study, after the 2017 Legislature debated whether the state should go to a self-funding option. Supporters believe it could be a way to control costs.

House passes 'self insurance' bill

Mar 30, 2017
ND Legislature

The House has approved a bill to have the state adopt a self-insurance health plan for state employees.

Right now, Sanford Health is the insurance carrier. It has a contract until 2019. The bill would end the contract by January 2018. Supporters say adopting a self-insurance pan would save the state $12 million, and employees would not see a change in coverage.

"We have a responsibility to our hard working public employees to get them the best health care coverage possible," said Rep. Mike Lefor (R-Dickinson). "That's the number one goal"

Sanford will continue to provide health insurance for state workers – for at least two more years.

In 2014, the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System changed insurance carriers, picking Sanford over Blue Cross-Blue Shield.  The contract runs 6 years – but the Legislature passed a bill requiring a review every two years.

PERS director Sparb Collins said the bill laid out the review process, and if the board elected not to renew, there would have to be a new bid. Collins said the Board found no reason to disconyinue the contract.

An interim Legislative committee is looking at wellness programs – and how they could be made part of the health insurance plan for state employees.

"Are they effective?" said Rep. George Keiser (R-Bismarck), the chairman of the interim Health Care Reform Review Committee. "If so, what are the advantages to the employees, and what are the advantages to the employer?"

Keiser said the Committee is exploring various options to consider.

The chairman of the Public Employees Retirement System board is defending the board’s decision to select Sanford Health as the state’s new insurance carrier.

Sanford replaces Blue Cross-Blue Shield, who had the contract for 37 years.

State lawmakers will be asking questions about the new health plans for state employees.

After 37 years with Blue Cross-Blue Shield, the Public Employees’ Retirement System board went with Sanford’s health insurance plan. The PERS board says Sanford's bid was substantially lower than the Blues' bid.

"We've asked a lot of questions," said House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo). "We've seen a copy of the base contract. But it's a long document, and it's in a lot of words that I don't understand."