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Politics & Government

Interim committee studying public employees' health insurance plan

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ND Legislature
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Credit ND Legislature
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Sen. Dick Dever (R-Bismarck).

An interim Legislative committee has begun its study of health insuarnce for public employees.

Sanford Health has the current contract to provide that insurance. But the Interim Health Care Reform Review Committee is looking at the possibility of adopting a “self-insurance” plan for North Dakota public employees. Right now, the state has a “hybrid plan” – which combines elements of a fully-paid plan with self-insurance.

"I believe a lot of legislators and the public really don't understand the term 'self-funded,'" said Rep. Jiim Kasper (R-Fargo), a proponent of self-insurance. "They ehar those words and say, 'Gee, that's terrible. Big Risk.'  But if you properly design a modified self-funded insurance plan, there's hardly any risk."

Kasper said there's a lot of "upside" to self-insurance.

But another committee member -- Se. Dick Dever (R-Bismarck) -- said to him, the jury is still out on self-insurance. Dever said the state's current hybrid plan is closer to self-insurance than it is to a fuully-paid plan.

"Under our current program, the profits come back to the state," Dever said. "The carrier absorbs the risk, so we don't have any loss. It doesn't make sense to change that from what we have now."

But Dever said the insurance carriers may be reluctant to bid for a new contract unless they have the flexibility to build in enough to cover their risk.

The Committee will make a recommendation to the 2019 Legislature.

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