Options for North Dakotans in Wake of ACA Impact - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Options for North Dakotans in Wake of ACA Impact

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More North Dakotans are expected to lose coverage than those who signed up last month using the federal website in the 36 states relying on it.

The Obama Administration reports fewer than 27,000 obtained coverage through www.healthcare.gov in October -- while the North Dakota Insurance Department says more than 35,000 people are, or will be, losing existing policies.  Changes being made to comply with the Affordable Care Act are blamed.

North Dakotans receiving notices of cancellation, non-renewal or discontinuation of policies have limited options.  There are "Navigators," those trained to help consumers look for coverage, but only two in North Dakota -- Minot State University Center for Persons with Disabilities and Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board.

A North Dakota health care provider is preparing to help people caught in the middle.  "We're going to have folks who are trained to sit down with them and say, well, let's go through your financial information, because you might qualify for Medicaid, tell them that as an option, or you might qualify for a subsidy if you go through the Exchange to help you pay for your health insurance.  And even if you don't quality for those things, it could help them understand what their options are to buy their own health insurance," says Melissa Hauer, Corporate Counsel, Sanford Bismarck.

  Still there are many unknowns -- for consumers and insurers.  For providers, it's uncertain whether people will resist enrolling -- or if patient numbers will swell.

  "More insured people equals more people coming to our door.  That's a real possibility, and we hope that is, because maybe people are getting better preventive care and they're not just relying on the emergency room because they don't have health coverage.  But we don't know.  I think we have to wait and see," notes Hauer.

States running their own exchanges did better than healthcare.gov -- signing up more than 79,000.  Administration officials vow the website will be running smoothly for the vast majority of users by November 30th.

 

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