Insurance Commissioner on Obamacare - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Insurance Commissioner on Obamacare

Insurance Commissioner on Obamacare

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The Department of Health and Human services estimates that 8.6 million people have visited the healthcare.gov website since the Health Insurance Marketplace opened enrollment on October first.

The Affordable Health Care Act requires that everyone carries health insurance by March 31, 2014.

In order for the policy to be active by that date, everyone must be enrolled by February 14.

Jennifer Thorgramson spoke with the North Dakota Insurance Commissioner about the changes that will come to the state with the reform.

(Adam Hamm, ND Insurance Commissioner) "For most folks, costs are going to go up. It's just the simple math of how health insurance premiums are calculated."

North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm has spent much of his TERM studying the Affordable Care Act.

Hamm was appointed to the position in 2007 and elected in 2008 and 2012.

This month, he's taking his research on the road, updating agents on the future of health insurance in North Dakota.

The biggest change: the STATE no longer runs the exchange.

The exchange is now federally run, and it's now called a 'marketplace.'

(Adam Hamm, ND Insurance Commissioner) "It's still at the end of the day a health insurance product that people will buy, but in addition to that, if they're buying products inside this federal marketplace, it's possible they'll get a subsidy, and that's the important part. You only get a subsidy if you meet certain income thresholds."

Tax subsidies are only available if you buy health insurance INSIDE the marketplace.

The three companies in North Dakota that offer products inside the marketplace are Blue Cross Blue Shield, Sanford and Medica.

All three also offer products OUTSIDE the marketplace --- and there are other health insurance companies that offer OUTSIDE the marketplace products.

Hamm describes it as two parallel product markets --- one offers tax subsidies, the other does not.

How do you decide which market suits you best?

That's where healthcare.gov comes into play.

The federal government website that went live on October first, and is still not working.

(Adam Hamm, ND Insurance Commissioner) "It's one of those deals where, once this website can actually get up and running so that people can learn what's going on, they'll have to find out, do they have to buy? If they have to buy, what are the plans that they can buy, and then if any subsidy, can we help them with the cost of it? All of those things have to happen in the next couple of months. It's encombant on the federal government to get their act together."

Health care reform passed in 2010 with a democrat majority.

Expanding access and universal coverage is an idea that stems back to President Harry Truman.

An issue that continues to draw a bold line between parties.

(Adam Hamm, ND Insurance Commissioner) "To be fair, if a democrat was standing here right now, he would be saying the exact opposite of me. This is one of those things that I've found over the last three-and-a-half years talking to regular folks or people in the insurance agency, this thing breaks down ideologically so starkly: republicans disagree with it, democrats agree with it and there's almost never a place to meet."

In Minot, Jennifer Thorgramson, KX News.

Individuals will be fined $95 per year if they choose not to carry health insurance by March 31, 2014.

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