Tax credits continue on North Dakota insurance marketplace

Twitter_Our members can rest assured coverage remains in place

We understand that you may have questions or concerns about the impact of today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on your health insurance coverage. We would like all members to know that their Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota insurance coverage remains in effect.

WHAT IT MEANS
Today’s ruling allows North Dakotans who qualify to continue receiving tax credit financial assistance when purchasing plans on the North Dakota marketplace.

The ruling allows state insurance marketplaces established by the federal government in North Dakota and 35 other states to offer those who qualify tax credits to help them afford the costs of insurance premiums. The tax credits are only available to those who purchase plans on marketplaces in states for individual and family plans set up by the Affordable Care Act health reform law. The next enrollment period to purchase insurance on the North Dakota marketplace begins in November for January 2016 coverage.

The ruling does not impact those who receive health insurance through an employer, a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid, or those who purchase insurance directly from an insurance company. It only affects those who receive financial assistance when purchasing plans on the North Dakota marketplace at www.healthcare.gov.

Today’s ruling helps ensure that we can continue to provide the security and stability of Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance to all of our members, regardless of who they are or how they purchase coverage.

FOCUS ON AFFORDABILITY
There is still much work to be done to help make health care more affordable. We are partnering with patients, doctors and hospitals to help create a health care system that is better coordinated, provides quality care and helps patients get healthy faster and stay healthy longer.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Employees support the United Way of Cass-Clay

What could be better than a walk in the park?

Photo_5K NMIC runners_small

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, we believe in promoting physical activity and supporting the United Way of Cass-Clay.

Our employees, retirees and their families gathered on June 18 at Lindenwood Park in Fargo to do just that. Kids enjoyed the kids’ dash, and others pushed strollers, walked, jogged or ran the 5K.

Through employee registration fees for the event, we raised $2,500 to support the United Way of Cass-Clay!

Our Employees’ Committee came up with the great idea to host the walk as a new way to raise funds for the United Way. The event provided employees, retirees and their families an opportunity to enjoy an evening together — while helping others. More than 325 people signed up for the event.2015 06 18_kids dash

 

Travis Christopher of the United Way of Cass-Clay dubbed the event the unofficial kick-off to the 2015 United Way campaign. “You dialed up the best weather of the spring and summer,” he told the crowd gathered in the park. “You are leaders. This isn’t just a fun run; it’s the unofficial kick-off of our next campaign.”

Employee Josh Malnourie was one of the many employees who brought family to the event. “The company 5k is a great event for employees to invest in our community through the United Way, while having a fun time with our coworkers,” Josh said.

Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Understanding migraines

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Headaches are one of the most common pain-related health problems for adults and kids. While some headaches can be mild, others land people in the emergency room.

Some headaches are known as migraines. Migraines are painful, throbbing headaches that last from four hours up to three days. Migraine pain can prevent people from participating in work, school and other activities.

While different people may have different symptoms, the main migraine symptom is a throbbing headache on one side of your head. Other symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Pain aggravated by activity, light, noise or odors
  • Seeing temporary spots, wavy lines or flashing lights before the start of a headache

More than 10 percent of Americans suffer from migraines. Migraines tend to run in families and rank in the top 20 of the world’s most disabling medical illnesses.

Your health care provider can create a treatment plan for your headaches, based on your type of pain. Try to answer these questions and bring this information to your appointment with your health care provider:

  • How long have you had headaches?
  • Where does it hurt?
  • What type of pain is it?
  • When do you get headaches?
  • What seems to trigger your headaches (foods, drinks, timing, activities, seasons)?
  • How long do they last?
  • Do you get other symptoms?
  • What does help (sleep, over-the-counter medications, rest, exercise)?
  • What have you tried to treat headaches?
  • Does anyone else in your family have headaches?

Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Health care access in 50 states, 200 countries

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Are you or your family planning a summer vacation?

If you or your family gets sick while traveling, we’ve got you covered — even if you’re outside the state or in another country.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) offers the most accepted health insurance in North Dakota, with access to more than 99 percent of doctors and hospitals in the state.

As a BCBSND member, you also have access to a robust national and international network, allowing you to seek care when traveling, on vacation or studying abroad. Our members have access to more than 90 percent of the nation’s doctors and specialists in all 50 states through BlueCard partnerships between Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Members also have access to health care services in 200 countries through BlueCard Worldwide agreements.

Need medical care when out of the state? You’re covered. Specific coverage details may vary. Coverage is generally not available for elective services, but is covered for emergency or medically necessary care.

BlueCard access provides you and your family coverage in all 50 states.

College students on their parents’ insurance, and students on BCBSND plans can receive medical care when traveling outside the state and country.

For more information, please call the phone number on the back of your BCBSND ID card, or visit online member services.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Explanation of out of pocket costs

Health insurance can be confusing. We’re here to help. Here’s an explanation of an often misunderstood health insurance term and what it means.

OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES  are health care costs that you pay for yourself.

HOW OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES WORK
Some examples of out of pocket expenses are copayments, deductibles and coinsurance.

A COPAYMENT, or copay, is a set amount you pay when receiving care. You may be asked to pay a copay when you arrive for a doctor’s appointment, for example.

A DEDUCTIBLE is a set amount you must pay during the year before your insurance company begins to share costs with you. Once you have paid the full amount of your deductible, your insurance company may start paying for a portion of the remaining balance of your medical bills. If your plan has a 20 percent COINSURANCE, you would pay 20 percent of the remaining balance, and your insurance company would pay the rest of the bill.

Please call the phone number on the back of your ID card if you have any questions.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Sedentary lifestyle is hazardous to your health

The chair may look like a harmless piece of home or office furniture, but health experts say spending too much time sitting can be hazardous to your health.

Too much sitting can be hazardous to your health.
Too much sitting can be hazardous to your health.

 

Some experts even refer to sitting as the new smoking.

If you sit for more than six hours a day and have a waist of more than 37 inches, you are 94 percent more likely to die if you’re a woman and 48 percent more likely to die if you’re a man. That was the finding in a 14-year longitudinal study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Who knew that sitting could be so deadly?

A sedentary lifestyle affects not only your physical well-being, but your mental well-being and your productivity at work, says North Dakota Worksite Wellness Administrator Pete Seljevold of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

“It’s not just the time you spend sitting at work,” Seljevold said. “Add in the time spent sitting while commuting to and from work, plus any screen time once you get home. You can easily spend more time sitting than sleeping.”

British researcher Jeremy Morris studied double-decker bus drivers and conductors in London in the late 1940s to early 1950s. The sedentary drivers were twice as likely to die from heart attacks as the physically active conductors. Morris also conducted a study of clerical workers and mail carriers, which yielded similar results.

“This confirms what we intuitively already know. The more active you are, the better it is for your health. The more sedentary, the worse it is for your health,” Seljevold said.

Seljevold offers these tips to help you be more physically active at work if you have a sedentary job:

  • Stand during phone calls or when reading.
  • Have standing meetings or walking meetings.
  • Set a timer on your desk or cellphone. Every hour, get up and move for three to five minutes. You can get some water to drink or use the restroom. If you take six five-minute breaks a day, that’s 30 minutes. If you do that every day at work, you’ve added 150 minutes of physical activity to your week.
  • Go for a walk on your 15-minute “coffee” break.
  • If feasible, get a standing work station or adjust your work station.

He adds that other studies indicate that creativity and productive go up even after short bursts of exercise.

“The biggest thing is to move every hour,” Seljevold says.

You can start becoming more active by doing short microbursts, or a short activity, at your desk. Here are some short YouTube videos to get you started:

Denise Pinkney is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

 

 

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Access to 99 percent of N.D. doctors, hospitals

We have been serving North Dakotans for 75 years. As North Dakota’s oldest and largest health insurance company, we provide our members with unmatched access to doctors and health care facilities in the state.

Our members have access to:

  • 99.6 percent of North Dakota doctors, allowing you to find a doctor in your area
  • 99 percent of North Dakota hospitals, including all the big city hospitals, and rural facilities
  • 90 percent of doctors and specialists across the country through in-network agreements with other Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies in all 50 states
  • 200 countries worldwide have doctors, clinics and hospitals that accept Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) insurance coverage

4-23-15 BCBSND coverage TWITER CROP

A BCBSND membership card is the gold standard for health insurance coverage in North Dakota and beyond, ensuring you will be able to find a doctor and clinic nearby whether you live in a big city, small town or on a farm.

BCBSND offers its members access to more doctors and health care facilities than any other insurance company in the state. Networks vary depending upon the details of your specific insurance plan. Some networks require members to select a group of health care facilities to seek care. Visit BCBSND.com/find-a-doctor to find which doctors in your area are part of your network. Here are some more tips to help you pick a doctor.

As a BCBSND member you also have access to our comprehensive national network of doctors, clinics and hospitals through our partnership with other Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans across the country. Our national network gives you access to receive needed medical care from more than 90 percent of doctors and specialists in the nation in every state, and in 200 countries worldwide. If you get sick or need emergency care while on vacation or while traveling, we’ve got you covered.

If you need help, we’re just a phone call or a short drive away. You can call the phone number on the back of your ID card to talk with a customer service representative or visit one of our local offices across the state. As a North Dakota-based company, we have 10 offices across the state, providing local service and jobs in local communities.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Celebrating 75 years serving North Dakotans

In early 1940, the country was still recovering from the effects of the Great Depression. North Dakota had recently experienced drought, bank failures, an eroding economy and an exodus of residents leaving the state during the preceding two decades.

It was against this backdrop that the North Dakota Hospital Association began operating on March 22, 1940 with a staff of three in the First National Bank Building in Fargo, introducing prepaid hospital care to the state. North Dakota’s first health insurance company was started with help from St. Luke’s and St. John’s hospitals in Fargo and local civic groups to help fill a need for affordable medical coverage.


First National Bank Building, Fargo

The company, which would become Blue Cross of North Dakota in 1964 and merge with Blue Shield of North Dakota in 1986, came along at a time when many North Dakotans were struggling to afford medical care. Since its humble beginnings, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) has collaborated with others to help provide the best possible health coverage value, while always striving to serve its members.

Much has changed during the last 75 years, but BCBSND is still led by the same spirit of public service and collaboration. Over the years, generations of North Dakotans have come to rely on the high quality coverage and outstanding customer service we provide our members and neighbors. That’s why Midwest Motor Express, and many other companies, have provided BCBSND insurance to their employees for decades. It’s also why North Dakota families like the Strommens trust us to provide their health insurance coverage.

Our company’s enrollment has grown from 9,000 our first year to more than 450,000 today. BCBSND insures roughly half of the state’s population. An overwhelming 99.6 percent of North Dakota doctors and 99 percent of hospitals in the state accept our coverage, ensuring members have access to most doctors and virtually all health care facilities across the state. Our nationwide network also allows you to visit more than 90 percent of doctors and specialists, wherever Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance is accepted in all 50 states, and in 200 countries worldwide.


Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota’s current Fargo headquarters building

We are proud of our North Dakota heritage and to be North Dakotans serving North Dakotans. We are based in North Dakota and our 10 offices throughout the state help us provide the world-class service our members have come to expect from us. Our 1,000 employees are your friends and neighbors. As a nonprofit member-owned company, our passion is serving our members. Without our members we wouldn’t be here.

We’ve been fortunate enough to serve North Dakotans for 75 years. With the support of our members and local communities, we plan to be around in another 75 years.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota
Founded:
1940
Headquarters: Fargo
Employees: 1,000
Ownership: Nonprofit

Membership growth through the years
1940:
9,000
1950: 75,000
1960: 212,000
1970: 302,000
1980: 385,000
1990: 370,000
2000: 415,000
2010: 456,000
2015: 456,000

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Fargo Marathon 5K recap

woman runner CROPPED

It was a chilly 45 degrees at race time for the May 8 Fargo Marathon Tailgate Friday Night 5K.

But more than 6,000 walkers and runners braved the cold temperatures and once again made the Fargo Marathon’s 5K a fun and successful event.

Here’s a YouTube video recap of the event.

We enjoyed sponsoring the 5K with Discovery Benefits again. It was great to see everyone out walking and running together.


Many of our employees competed in the 5K or volunteered at the event.

We love sponsoring this event and experiencing the camaraderie, sportsmanship and the great example of people taking part in promoting health and wellness in the community.

There were some serious runners at the 5K (the fastest runners were coming down the home stretch to the finish line as the last walkers left the starting line). The great crowds and scenes of families running together and moms pushing baby strollers remind us all that it’s not just how good of shape you are in, but that you’re getting out and being active and taking steps to improve your health.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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Playing kickball and tug of war at work

A team of our employees competed in the Corporate Cup sponsored by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce last week.

We didn’t win, but we still had a blast. We finished a respectable 12th out of 37 teams of Fargo area companies in the recreational division.

There’s something about adults playing kickball, tug of war and ultimate Frisbee that helps to reconnect with childhood memories and experiences of playing on competitive sports teams.

Employees playing tug of war
What could be more fun than adults playing tug of war?

Other fun Corporate Cup events included hot spot basketball, a stationary bike race and volleyball.

The Corporate Cup only happens once a year, but we encourage you to tap into your inner child and look for opportunities to get active and have fun at work. Examples include starting up a company rec league softball team, taking short walks inside or outside the building at lunch with coworkers, or carrying a pedometer and challenging your coworkers to see who can get more steps in each day.

Have a task at work that no one wants to do? We suggest a game of rock, paper, scissors.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

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