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Published November 04, 2013, 08:57 PM

ND pushes to publicize health insurance enrollment, cancellation numbers

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s Insurance Department is asking the state’s health insurance companies for more information about the impact of federal health care reforms across the state.

By: Kyle Potter, INFORUM

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s Insurance Department is asking the state’s health insurance companies for more information about the impact of federal health care reforms across the state.

The agency has requested a report on the number of policies that will be canceled as of Jan. 1 and monthly reports on how many North Dakotans have purchased insurance plans through the new federal health care marketplace.

Deputy Insurance Commissioner Rebecca Ternes on Friday emailed officials from the three companies selling coverage on healthcare.gov – Blue Cross Blue Shield North Dakota, Medica and Sanford Health – asking for the reports “in an effort to gather pertinent data about health care reform, the Marketplaces and the overall impact on North Dakota consumers.”

Ternes asked each company for enrollment figures as of Nov. 1 – one month into the problematic launch of the new federal health insurance marketplace. As of late last month, the three companies had sold a total of 20 plans, according to figures released by those companies.

In her email, Ternes said the Insurance Department would publicly release an aggregate enrollment total.

The companies were also asked how many North Dakotans’ insurance plans were being canceled or shuffled due to new federal regulations.

In a story published Sunday, The Forum reported at least 2,500 cancellation notices had been sent out to North Dakotans. Several companies, including health insurance giant Blue Cross, declined to provide those figures, making a total tally difficult.

All told, about 42,500 North Dakotans – 6 percent of the state – were covered by individual insurance plans at the end of 2012, according to Insurance Department records.

Individual insurance plans are the first to be subjected to a sweeping set of new regulations meant to bolster health care: requiring once-optional coverage such as for mental health and maternity, limiting out-of-pocket expenses and a ban on denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

Those plans that don’t meet the new standards can’t be “grandfathered” and have to be canceled or upgraded.

Though just three North Dakota companies sell insurance on the exchange, all of the dozen or so companies that sell individual plans will be impacted by the regulatory changes. The Insurance Department did not ask any other companies for cancellation figures.

The department gave each company until Thursday 5 p.m. to respond. None of the companies had responded as of Monday morning, spokeswoman Andrea Fonkert said.

Plan cancellations and low enrollment through health plan websites required by Obamacare, the federal health care reforms signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama, has led to criticism by Republicans and others who oppose the law. The Insurance Department is headed by Adam Hamm, a Republican.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502

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