BISMARCK-A bill floated at the North Dakota Legislature calls for the state to self-fund its health insurance plan for its employees, a major policy change that's being proposed more than halfway through the legislative session.

The bill, proposed by House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, was approved by the House Delayed Bills Committee Thursday morning. A version of the bill was not posted on the Legislature's website by the late afternoon.

In a news release, Carlson called self-funded insurance "smart money management for the state,

especially in a time when we are facing big premium increases every year."

A self-funded plan would mean insurance premiums are pooled into a state reserve fund to pay claims and administrative expenses. The state would contract with an insurance company to manage the plan, according to a release from Carlson's office.

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A memo provided by Carlson argues North Dakota is the only state that offers only a fully-insured plan. He said it's not aimed at changing the health insurance plan design.

The North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System chose Sanford Health Plan as its health insurance provider in February 2015, awarding it a six-year contract.

House Minority Leader Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, raised questions about the bill but ultimately agreed to pass it out of the Delayed Bills Committee.

"We're open to having the conversation about health insurance plans and making sure that we do have the right policies in place," he said.