Just 53 percent of ND Obamacare sign-ups have paid first month’s premium


By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

BIG DISCREPANCY: According to numbers from state Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm, just 52.8 percent of North Dakotans who have selected a plan on the federal insurance exchange have paid their first month’s premium.

BISMARCK, N.D. — As the deadline for most people to enroll in the Affordable Care Act looms, there’s a big discrepancy between the number the federal government is counting as enrolled in North Dakota and what state insurance officials are seeing.

According to numbers released by the Obama administration, just 5,238 people have selected plans through the federal insurance exchange as of March 1. That’s the second smallest number among the states, ahead of only Hawaii.

But according to numbers presented by North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm to the state Legislature’s interim Health Care Reform Review Committee, only 2,770 policies have been put into force as of March 5, meaning the insured has enrolled and paid the first month’s premium.

That’s just more than 53 percent of the federal number, leaving 47 percent of those who have selected policies without effectuated coverage.

Nationally, insurance industry officials have estimated that 15 to 20 percent haven’t paid their first month’s premium.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has announced that those who haven’t yet selected an insurance plan through the federal exchange will be able to request an extension.

“Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline,” the Washington Post reported Tuesday. “This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.”

As of March 1, an additional 5,080 North Dakotans had enrolled for insurance through the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program that was implemented as a part of the ACA, according to North Dakota Human Services spokeswoman LuWanna Lawrence.