Explaining health reform to North Dakotans

A packed room at the Ramada in Fargo listened intently this week as Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota representatives explained how health reform will impact them during an informational session as part of a tour of eight North Dakota cities we are holding across the state in October 2013.

There were many questions from the crowd. Some wanted to know how health reform would impact Medicare coverage, others asked about tax credits for obtaining coverage on state health marketplaces. Some wanted to know how the Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as Obamacare) will impact their premiums. We know that North Dakotans have many questions and concerns. We’re here to help North Dakotans sort through the complex changes and explain their insurance options.


James Nichol of Blue Cross Blue Shield answers questions during an info session in Fargo on October 21.

Those on Medicare are not directly impacted by the health reform law and do not need to sign up for coverage on the new state marketplace. Beware of potential scams encouraging you to sign up to keep Medicare coverage or to get a new insurance card.

If you already receive health insurance through your employer, you likely do not need to do anything. But, if you purchase insurance directly from an insurance company or are uninsured, you have another option when purchasing insurance — North Dakota’s state insurance marketplace. While the federal government’s healthcare.gov website to access the North Dakota marketplace has experienced technical glitches so far, making it difficult for many to get through, there is still plenty of time left to sign up for coverage. You have until December 15, 2013 to sign up and make your first payment to have insurance coverage when marketplace plans begin offering coverage on January 1, 2014. Open enrollment for the marketplaces will run through March 2014.

Those with annual incomes as low as $46,000 for one person or as low as about $94,000 for a family of four in 2013 may be eligible for tax credits if they purchase insurance on the state health insurance marketplace. To find out if you qualify, check out our online tax credit calculator.

Answering how the Affordable Care Act will impact your premiums is more complicated. Some North Dakotans will experience premium increases in 2014, while others will see premiums decrease. The best way to find out how your individual situation will be impacted is to contact Human Resources at your company if you receive insurance through your employer or contact your local Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota office or one of our many local certified agents if you buy your own insurance.

Find out more about health reform impacts at www.ItStartsWithBlueND.com. 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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