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Published January 26, 2011, 12:26 PM

ND health insurance company, health providers pledge to rein in health costs

FARGO – North Dakota’s largest health insurance company and some of the state’s leading health providers pledged today to work together to restrain medical inflation.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

FARGO – North Dakota’s largest health insurance company and some of the state’s leading health providers pledged today to work together to restrain medical inflation.

The initiative seeks to reduce the annual rate of medical inflation, now averaging 8 percent, to about 6½ percent in three years.

“Now, that is not the end of the journey,” said Paul von Ebers, chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, which is spearheading the effort. “This is an interim goal.”

The collaborative campaign to rein in health costs involves Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and major health providers including Sanford Health and Essentia Health, as well as Altru Health in Grand Forks and Trinity Health in Minot.

Reducing the rate of health care inflation to the targeted 6½ percent annual rate would save $30 million over the next three years and more than $15 million a year thereafter, von Ebers said.

A major component of the drive to restrain costs is for the insurer to work with doctors to better manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes and asthma, and complex “mega claims.”

The push in North Dakota, which seeks to get ahead of national health reforms, is because of wide agreement that the current rate of medical inflation is “unsustainable,” von Ebers and others said.

For more on the story read Thursday’s Forum.

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