Failure of Maryland Obamacare exchange could mean higher premiums in North Dakota

Part 93 of 93 in the series Obamacare

By Rob Port | North Dakota Bureau

MD TO ND: North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm’s office is monitoring losses incurred by Noridian Mutual Insurance Company building Maryland’s Obamacare exchange. Noridian controls over 80 percent of North Dakota’s insurance market, and the losses in Maryland could impact North Dakota premiums.

BISMARCK, N.D. — Maryland’s state’s health insurance exchange isn’t working and that may have fallout for North Dakota insurance customers.

The state’s exchange went crashed shortly after the Oct. 1 launch date and hasn’t worked consistently since. Earlier this week a state board overseeing Maryland’s exchange voted to move away from their existing system and instead partner with a company that built Connecticut’s exchange. The contractor that built the original exchange in Maryland, Noridian Health Care Solutions, was fired at the end of February.

Now the impact of the losses in Maryland are being scrutinized by state officials for possible impacts on insurance costs in North Dakota.

“The Insurance Department is closely monitoring the Noridian Healthcare Solutions (NHS) situation in Maryland,” Deputy Insurance Commissioner Rebecca Ternes said in response to an emailed inquiry. “The impact of this situation has been included in the Department’s ongoing financial exam on the parent company, Noridian Mutual Insurance Company. Financial examination work product is not public record until a final exam report is issued.”

BCBSND spokeswoman Andrea Dineen did not respond to phone calls or emails requesting comment. There was no date given for when the financial exam would be completed.

Noridian Mutual Insurance Company operates under several brands, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota which controls roughly 80 percent of the state’s insurance market.

A recent quarterly filing by Noridian Mutual Insurance, of which Noridial Health Care Solutions is a wholly owned subsidiary, disclosed that an subsidiary was facing $17.8 million in projected losses. In late December BCBSND sent out a letter to state legislators announcing their intention to withdraw from the state’s expansion of Medicaid, which was an element of the federal Affordable Care Act implemented by the state, citing financial risks.

“BCBSND is unable to assume the financial risk in the arrangement and is obligated to protect the company and its members from the unidentified claims costs for this population,” the letter read.

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