Rate comparisons unavailable for North Dakota exchange

July 26, 2013 Ryan Schuster

An official with the North Dakota Insurance Department recently told a legislative interim Health Reform Review Committee that the insurance department does not plan to compare the rates of health plans offered on the state's marketplace or exchange for small businesses and individuals to plans that are currently offered.

Some states have attempted to compare rates or premiums charged by insurers offering plans on their state exchange, leading to disagreement about how best to compare differing plans. Rebecca Ternes, state deputy insurance commissioner, said the plans submitted for the state's exchange are not the same and "apples to apples" comparisons would be difficult to compile.

Ternes said Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota had submitted 15 group insurance plans and 19 individual plans for the North Dakota exchange and that the Sanford Health Plan and Medica had also submitted group and individual plans for the North Dakota exchange.

Starting on October 1, North Dakotans will be able to enroll in a new online marketplace or exchange to purchase insurance coverage. Plans will be available on the exchange in four levels of coverage (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) based on actuarial value and the amount of coverage provided. Coverage for those who enroll will begin on January 1, 2014.

State exchanges for small businesses and individuals will add another option for purchasing insurance and are expected to attract individuals whose employer does not offer health insurance or those who are not satisfied with their current health plan's offerings. North Dakota's exchange will be set up and run by the federal government after the state legislature chose to default to a federal exchange instead of setting up and running North Dakota's exchange.