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Board awards state health insurance contract; Godfread announces 2021 insurance rates

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North Dakota state Capitol

The North Dakota state Capitol in Bismarck is offset by flowers in full bloom in June 2018.

North Dakota's Public Employees Retirement System Board has awarded its next two-year state health insurance contract to Sanford Health Plan.

Separately, Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread has released approved health insurance rates for next year.

The Public Employees Retirement System Board awarded its contract Monday, at a cost of $689.2 million, beginning July 1, 2021, when the state's new two-year budget cycle starts.

System Executive Director Scott Miller said the final number will depend on the final plan design and the amount approved by the 2021 Legislature. The current contract is for $686.8 million. 

The contract provides coverage for more than 60,000 health plan participants.

Sanford Health Plan has been the state's health insurance provider since 2015, when it outbid Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. The board has the option to renew for two additional two-year contracts.

The board and its independent consultant reviewed 14 eligible proposals.

“We look forward to the continued partnership with Sanford Health Plan," Miller said in a statement. "In a season of many unprecedented changes, our members and their families will be able to rely on the stability of their health insurance."

2021 rates

Godfread on Thursday released approved health insurance rates for both individual and small group plans for 2021.

“A vast majority of North Dakotans should see little to no change in the health insurance premiums they are paying from this year to next year," he said in a statement. "During these uncertain times, we felt it was important to give as much consistency to our consumers as possible, especially when it comes to health insurance.”

The 2021 rates reflect an average rate reduction of 20% last year due to the state's reinsurance program. Reinsurance essentially is insurance for insurance companies to protect them from high-dollar claims, resulting in lower premiums for consumers. The federal government in July 2019 approved the state's reinsurance program, which establishes a pool of federal and state money to help cover high-risk people.

Average 2021 individual market rate increases for the major carriers in North Dakota are: Blue Cross Blue Shield, 0.63%; Sanford Health Plan 14.28%; and Medica Health Plan, 0.9%.

Average 2021 small group market rate increases for the major carriers in North Dakota are: Blue Cross Blue Shield, none; Sanford Health Plan none; United Health Care, 7.91%; and Medica Insurance Co., 0.16%.

For more information, go to insurance.nd.gov or contact the Insurance Department at 701-328-2440.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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