Cut Federal Subsidies Could Leave Some North Dakotans Paying more for Health Insurance

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President Trump’s recent announcement that he’s slashing cost sharing subsidy payments to insurers is leaving states scrambling.

North Dakota is just one state that figured the cost sharing reductions (CSR) into its 2018 rates, now, the state has less than 24 hours to decide what to do.

For more than 20,000 North Dakotans, how much they will be paying for health insurance next year is still unknown.

“I’m worried about continuing to push this over the cliff cause these are real people these are real issues and it’s really affecting them,” Jon Godfread, North Dakota insurance commissioner says.

When North Dakota approved rates last month, the payment of the CSR’s were built into the rate structure. 

North Dakota’s insurance commissioner says those who will be hurt the most by cutting cost sharing subsidies are the consumers.

“Frankly, that’s [where this] health insurance marketplace … that’s where it’s really broken,”  Godfread says.

Without the CSR’s, states and insurers must decide how they will make up for the lost subsidies.

“Companies can raise the premiums on all of the plans which then would impact people regardless of whether or not they qualify for the reduced cost sharing plan, or they could raise the premiums on just the silver plan which are the ones where these cost sharing subsidies are available,” Tony Piscione, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota says.

Piscione says in 2016, Blue Cross of North Dakota received $4 million in cost sharing subsidies.

Now, Blue Cross and its members have to make up the difference.

David Boek, who works for the North Dakota Protection and Advocacy Project, says without affordable insurance, CSR’s help to provide, those with disabilities could be left with fewer health care options

“These cost sharing reductions are really key to helping individuals live in the community and to be included in ordinary life rather than being isolated in institutions,” David Boeck, North Dakota Protection and Advocacy Project says.

But Godfread says time to decide what to do next is limited.

“The fact that we’re sitting here in the middle of October and having some of these discussions is a little frustrating for me because we’ve had about a year long discussion on what our health insurance marketplace should look like and we just haven’t been able to get over the hump at the congressional level,” Godfread says.

Leaving insurers and the state racing to make a plan for the upcoming year.

States and insurers don’t have a lot of time to decide but there have been discussions about a potential eight to 10 percent rate increase for 2018.

And consumers could see rate increases by Jan. 1st. The open enrollment period to shop for a plan on the federal marketplace is November 1 through December 15.

Godfread says if you currently have a plan on the federal exchange it’s crucial that you review your current plan and shop around to see what plan and carrier is right for you.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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