Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Health costs hurt North Dakota family budgets

Families comprising an estimated 160,000 North Dakotans will spend more than 10 percent of their annual income on health coverage, according to a study by Families USA, a health reform advocacy group.

Families comprising an estimated 160,000 North Dakotans will spend more than 10 percent of their annual income on health coverage, according to a study by Families USA, a health reform advocacy group.

The study's authors say the results underscore the increasing struggle people younger than 65 confront in continuing to afford health coverage, as well as the need to address skyrocketing costs.

For some working families, the struggle is even more difficult. The report estimates that 50,000 North Dakotans will spend more than a quarter of their pre-tax income to pay for health care.

Having health insurance is no guarantee against the explosive rise in covering health expenses that take a bigger and bigger chunk out of family budgets, said Ron Pollock, executive director of Families USA.

"The overwhelming majority of these people have health insurance," he said in a news briefing on the report.

ADVERTISEMENT

More sobering news: The proportion of those spending 10 percent or more of their disposable incomes on health coverage increased by 44 percent in North Dakota since 2000.

"This is a huge increase," Pollock said. "The overwhelming majority of these people actually have health insurance."

He added: "High health care costs are not just a problem of the uninsured. For many, the burden of these costs is becoming too great to bear."

The average employee in North Dakota pays $3,018 a year for family health insurance coverage, or 30 percent, with employers paying 70 percent of the cost, according to figures compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That compares to an average employee contribution of $2,845 nationally, or a share of 25 percent of the cost of providing family coverage, according to the foundation's figures.

"It's wonderful to have figures to document what's going on," said Don Morrison, executive director of the North Dakota Center for the Public Good. He said state lawmakers recently missed an opportunity to significantly expand the number of children who receive subsidized health coverage.

Denise Kolpack, a spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, the state's dominant private health insurer, said the company continues to develop cost-containment initiatives.

"As one of the most administratively efficient insurance companies in the country, we are committed to keeping our health care premiums as affordable as possible, while balancing adequate provider reimbursement to cover the increasing costs of health care services." Kolpack said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Per member, the North Dakota Blues' monthly premiums are $267.13, the nation's seventh lowest, according to the company's figures.

One reform to help contain costs would be a switch to a payment system that rewards effective treatments, Pollack said.

"Our payment system actually rewards quantity of services rather than quality of services," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

Related Topics: HEALTHCARE
What To Read Next
The Buffalo Bills safety who suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football in January is urging people to learn how to save lives the way his was saved.
Josh Sipes was watching an in-flight movie when he became aware the flight crew were asking for help assisting a woman who was experiencing a medical problem.
A Sanford doctor says moderate cold exposure could be the boost people need for their day.
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.