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ND exchange insurance above national average

James Macpherson, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- North Dakota residents will have fewer insurance options and higher bills than the national average in the federally run health insurance exchange, according a federal report released Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report provides a look at the rates will be available when enrollment for the marketplaces opens Tuesday under the federal health care act championed by President Barack Obama. The federal government is running the marketplaces in North Dakota and 35 other states.

North Dakota has three insurers — Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, Medica and Sanford — that will be offering coverage through the exchange. The national average is eight. States with more competition typically have lower premiums, the report said.

North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm said the participating insurers have asked the state not to release detailed premium costs until the enrollment opens Oct. 1.

"We reviewed their requests and agreed not to disclose the costs but nothing prevents the companies or the federal government from disclosing," he said.

North Dakotans will have an average of 24 qualified health plans to choose from, compared to the national average of 53, the report said.

Despite the lack of precise details, the report said the average premium for a low-level plan for a family of four in North Dakota with an income of $50,000 will be $111 a month after tax credits. The national average is $95 a month.

The North Dakota family of four would pay $841 monthly before qualifying for tax credits, compared to the national average of $774, the report said.

Premiums for a low-level plan in North Dakota for a 27-year-old individual earning $25,000 would have an average monthly cost of $98, compared to the national average of $93.

Under the new law, participating insurers must offer plans within platinum, gold, silver and bronze classifications, with bronze offering the lowest benefits. The actual costs will vary widely depending on such things as income, age, family size, location and tobacco use.


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