December 15 deadline to enroll for January 1 coverage

Monday, December 15, is the last day to enroll in a Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) individual or family health insurance plan directly from BCBSND or on the Health Insurance Marketplace with coverage that begins on January 1, 2015.

If you enroll later than December 15, 2014 during the open enrollment period that ends February 15, 2015, your coverage will begin later in 2015.

Open Enrollment
The open enrollment window started on November 15, 2014 and will close on February 15, 2015 to purchase individual health insurance for 2015, both on the federal Marketplace and for plans purchased directly from insurance companies. If you purchase insurance directly from an insurance company or are insured through the Marketplace, you can also re-enroll in coverage for 2015 during open enrollment. This is the only time individuals can purchase health insurance during the course of the year without a unique event (such as getting married or the birth of a child) that qualifies them for a special enrollment period.

As part of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), most Americans are now required to have qualifying health insurance coverage, or face a tax penalty when they file their annual federal income tax returns.

To shop for health insurance during the November 15, 2014-February 15, 2015 open enrollment period:

  • Contact your local insurance agent
  • Visit our website at www.BCBSND.com/shop and shop for insurance
  • Go to one of our 8 offices throughout the state for assistance
  • Call our dedicated sales consultants at 1-800-280-BLUE (2583)
  • Go to www.healthcare.gov to search or enroll in Marketplace plans

Let us know 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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How to comply with the individual mandate

The Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) requires most Americans to have health insurance. This requirement is known as the individual mandate.

If you have health insurance, either through your job, your spouse’s job, Medicare or Medicaid, your coverage likely meets the requirement.

But if you don’t have any type of health insurance, you will need to purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty to the government for the months you didn’t have coverage. For 2015 coverage, you will need to enroll in a health plan between Nov. 15, 2014, and Feb. 15, 2015. This time period is known as open enrollment.

Some individuals are exempt from the mandate, including those who do not make enough money to be required to file a tax return and certain American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Tax penalty
The annual tax penalty for not having qualifying coverage in 2015 is $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, or 2 percent of taxable income, whichever is greater.

Under the ACA, plans that are purchased on the federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the exchange, may be available in four levels of coverage: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The individual mandate tax penalty will be capped at the national bronze plan average.  In 2014, the bronze plan average was $12,240 for a family of five and $2,448 for a single individual.

The amount of tax penalties for not having qualifying insurance will continue to increase in future years.

During the 2015 tax season, the Internal Revenue Service will begin asking taxpayers to attest to having health insurance coverage when filing their 2014 income tax returns. Those who are unable to do so will be assessed the tax penalty. Likewise, during the 2016 tax season, you will be asked if you had health insurance coverage in 2015.

Avoiding the tax penalty
If you would like to purchase insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota to avoid paying the individual mandate tax penalty, you can:

Not sure if you qualify for a federal tax credit to help pay for your insurance? You can use our handy tax credit calculator. If you qualify for the tax credit, you will need to purchase a plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov. Either way, you can start at www.BCBSND.com/shop.

Meet the deadline
Remember, you must purchase your 2015 health insurance before the current open enrollment period ends on Feb. 15, 2015. After that, BCBSND individual and family plans will not be available for purchase until the next open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15, 2016,unless you experience a qualifying life event. Typically you have 60 days from the time of the qualifying event to enroll in coverage. Some common examples of a qualifying event include:

  • Loss of affordable employer-sponsored coverage
  • Turning  age 26
  • Marriage/divorce
  • Birth or adoption
  • Moving to a new state

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

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Open enrollment period for 2015 insurance now open

If you are uninsured, aren’t offered health insurance from your job and don’t have coverage through a government program, you might want learn more about the open enrollment period to purchase individual insurance. The open enrollment period started on November 15.

Open Enrollment
The open enrollment window is open between November 15, 2014 and February 15, 2015 to help those seeking individual health insurance for 2015, both on the federal online Marketplace and for plans purchased directly from insurance companies. If you purchase insurance directly from an insurance company or are insured through the Marketplace, you can also re-enroll in coverage for 2015 during open enrollment.

The federal government created the open enrollment period for people seeking health insurance to sign up without having to worry about being denied coverage because of their health status. Those with health insurance coverage through their employer or government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, have differing enrollment periods.

During this period, North Dakotans have more options than ever before to purchase health insurance coverage. You can:

  • Visit our website at www.BCBSND.com/shop and shop for insurance
  • Go to one of our 8 offices throughout the state for assistance
  • Call our dedicated sales consultants at 1-800-280-BLUE (2583)
  • Go to www.healthcare.gov to search or enroll in Marketplace plans
  • Contact your local insurance broker

As part of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), most Americans are now required to have qualifying health insurance coverage, or face a tax penalty when they file their annual federal income tax returns.  To avoid this penalty for the 2015 tax year, you can enroll by December 15, 2014 to have coverage starting on January 1, 2015.

Despite numerous technical glitches, more than 10,000 North Dakotans purchased 2014 coverage through the online Marketplace (or exchange) at www.HealthCare.gov. If you are currently enrolled in a 2014 Marketplace plans, you will be automatically re-enrolled in your same plan for 2015 unless you contact your insurance company (cost sharing details and premiums may change for 2015).

Can I get help with the cost of my premiums?
For those purchasing coverage through the Marketplace, the federal government provides tax credits to help offset the cost of marketplace health insurance premiums for those who qualify. To find out if you qualify, you can use the Tax Credit Calculator at www.BCBSND.com/shop, and follow links to shop and enroll in Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota plans on the Marketplace.

How much coverage do I need?
The Affordable Care Act established levels of coverage through metallic plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and other insurers in the state can offer the metallic (bronze, silver, gold, platinum coverage) plans through the Marketplace, as well as directly to consumers.

If your employer offers health insurance, you can also purchase insurance from your job, or through government programs, if you qualify.

Health insurance can be confusing. Let us know 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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Are you at risk for breast cancer?

About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.

Mammogram technology is still considered the best way to detect breast abnormalities and cancers, so it’s important that women don’t put off their mammograms.

The National Cancer Institute recommends:

  • Women 40 years and older should get a mammogram every one to two years.
  • Women who have had breast cancer or other breast problems or who have a family history of breast cancer might need to start getting mammograms before age 40, or they might need to get them more often.

Talk with your doctor about when to start and how often you should have a mammogram. If you have questions about when mammograms are covered by your Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) health plan, please call BCBSND Member Services at 800-342-4718.

You can decrease your risk for breast cancer by exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and avoiding hormone medications. The factors listed below can increase your risk for breast cancer:

  • Using hormone medicine after menopause
  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • Certain radiation treatments
  • Being age 60 or older
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol use
  • Long menstrual history
  • Breast density
  • Having no children
  • Older than age 30 before first pregnancy
  • Genetic factors

Below are some questions to ask your doctor about your breast cancer risk factors:

  • What is my risk for developing breast cancer?
  • What can I do to reduce my risk?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • How is it diagnosed?
  • Are breast self-exams really worth doing?
  • What is a clinical breast exam?
  • What is a screening mammogram? Should I have one?
  • Are low-cost or free mammograms available?
  • Does using birth control increase my risk for developing breast cancer?
  • Does postmenopausal hormone therapy cause breast cancer?

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

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Health insurance open enrollment primer

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Most Americans were required to have health insurance coverage in 2014 as a result of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare). Those who do not comply with the individual mandate in the health care reform law may have to pay a tax penalty to the government when filing their taxes for 2014.

The tax penalty for not having qualifying coverage in 2014 is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, or 1 percent of annual taxable income, whichever is greater. During the 2015 tax season, taxpayers will be asked if they had insurance coverage when filing their 2014 income tax returns. Those who did not have insurance may be assessed the tax penalty. The percentage of income tax penalty is capped at national average premium of a bronze level plan.

2015 open enrollment

Individuals and families can enroll in 2015 health insurance coverage during the next open enrollment period from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015.

Most Americans will need to enroll in a qualifying 2015 health insurance plan during the open enrollment period to avoid paying a tax penalty when filing their 2015 income taxes in early 2016.

Tax credit calculator

You can click on the “Tax Credit Calculator” button on BCBSND.com to find out if you qualify for a tax credit to reduce your health insurance costs for coverage purchased on the online Health Insurance Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov.

If you do not qualify for a tax credit, you can buy the same Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota metallic level plan at BCBSND.com at the same cost as plans offered on the marketplace. If your employer offers health insurance coverage, you can also enroll in health insurance coverage through your job.

Get started

You can search, select and apply for plans at www.BCBSND.com/shop or by calling 1-800-280-BLUE (2583).

Let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help.

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

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Find out how to apply for health insurance

If you are interested in applying for health insurance, you have a number of options.

You can visit www.BCBSND.com/shop to compare and shop for different Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota plans that fit your needs.

Some employers also offer health insurance to employees, so you may be able to enroll in health coverage through your employer.


This short video explains how you can apply for insurance coverage.

If you have any questions, you can contact one of our health benefits consultants at 1-800-280-BLUE (2583).

Most prospective members will need to sign up for health insurance coverage from us during an open enrollment period. The next open enrollment period begins on November 15, 2014, for coverage starting in 2015.

If you recently got married, moved to North Dakota, experienced the birth of a child or have other qualifying life events, you may be eligible to enroll in health insurance coverage from us outside of the typical open enrollment period. Give us a call if you have any questions or if you’re not sure if you qualify.

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

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How to update your address with us

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One of the most common questions we get from members is how they can update their address with us.

Current Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota members can update their address when it changes on our website at www.BCBSND.com. Members first need to register before visiting the secure online portal at www.BCBSND.com/manage-my-benefits to enter their updated address.

If you haven’t set up an online account with us yet, you can also call the phone number on the back of your ID card and one of our customer service representatives can update your address in our system.


This short video explains how members can update their address with us.

Some companies that offer our insurance ask that their employees update their address through their human resources department. If your address has changed, you might also want to make sure you have updated your address with the U.S. Postal Service, so you continue getting mail from us.

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

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See our 2013 annual report, financial performance

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We faced many challenges during 2013, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), rising health care costs and higher than expected member claims. While the challenges led us to post a financial loss in 2013, our focus on our members as a not-for-profit member-owned company has not changed.

Through it all, we remain committed to delivering affordable solutions to improve the care and health of those we serve. With 98 percent of the state’s hospitals, clinics and health care professionals participating with us, our members continue to have access to nearly every doctor and every hospital in the state. We also continue to provide our members with best-in-class customer service. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota led all Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in quality assurance ratings for customer service, customer satisfaction and claims accuracy during the second half of 2013.

We believe in transparency and being accountable to our members. That is why we are mailing a copy of our 2013 annual report to all of our voting policyholders along with a letter introducing you to North Dakota native Tim Huckle, our new president and CEO. While Tim has recently been named as our top executive, he has been our longtime chief operating officer, and he has worked for us for nearly 29 years. Our 2013 annual report has been posted to our website, including a breakdown of our 2013 financial performance and more information on our direction and accomplishments.

We take our responsibility to serve our members’ best interests seriously. At about 8 percent, our administrative costs are among the lowest in the nation. Roughly 93 cents out of every premium dollar we collected from members in 2013 was used to help pay for members’ medical care.

We remain a strong and stable company with sufficient reserves to pay member medical claims. We have been providing North Dakotans with affordable, high quality health insurance for 74 years and we plan to continue doing so for many more years to come. Let us know 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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Shoes for Kids delivers 1,000 shoes to Fargo-Moorhead schools

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Going back to school is being made a little easier for some local elementary school students in need in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

This week 1,000 pairs of new Nike running shoes are being delivered to elementary schools in Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead as part of the Shoes for Kids program. This is the third year in a row that the program has donated 1,000 free running shoes to deserving kids in local schools.


This video shows shoes being delivered to West Fargo’s Freedom Elementary in 2013.

This year $1 was donated from each Fargo Marathon Friday Night 5K registration. Friday Night 5K co-sponsors Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and Discovery Benefits and the Dakota Medical Foundation matched donations to help provide shoes to local kids.

Online donations and additional funds this year helped raise enough money to purchase 1,500 new pairs of Nike shoes at a steep discount. The remaining shoes will be provided to schools later in the school year as they run out of their initial supply.

The new shoes are provided to students, often kids in financial need, by teachers who notice children in need of appropriate running shoes.

As The Official Sponsor of Recess, we are proud to be part of the Shoes for Kids program. We think all children, regardless of their family’s financial situation, deserve the opportunity to be active. We support programs like this that remove barriers to help North Dakotans live healthier lives.

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

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Which insurance plan pays for that?

If you are covered by more than one health insurance plan, it can be confusing knowing which one pays for what.

This may impact you if you and your spouse each receive health insurance coverage through your jobs, or if you have insurance coverage through us but also receive benefits from another program such as Medicare or Medicaid.


This short video explains how to find out what plan pays first.

Health insurance companies follow specific rules that govern which insurance plan pays in which order. Members do not need to do anything. We will help sort out which plan is required to pay when and how the process works for ensuring covered benefits are paid by the correct plan. If you have questions or think your claims should have been processed differently, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

We can help answer any questions you may have. The best way to find out the order that different insurance plans should kick in is to give us a call at the phone number listed on the back of your Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota ID card.

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

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