North Dakota Health Insurance Costs will Increase Because of Trump Decision

Late last night President Trump, in his continued attempt to undermine insurance markets, decided to end the cost-sharing reductions (CSR) to insurance companies. The subsidies are to help low-income consumers with out-of-pocket costs. The late-night decision to destabilize markets comes down after many of the insurance companies have set their rates for the next year.

The 2018 rates in North Dakota were set anticipating the CSR payments to continue. North Dakota’s Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread refused to allow insurance companies to even consider rates without the CSR payments. The uncertainty is what forced Medica out of the insurance exchange in ND. “Although we understand Medica’s concerns regarding the uncertainty of CSR funding, without knowing the intentions of Congress regarding CSRs, we had to make the decision to move forward with rates that assumed payments would be made,” Godfread said. In ND, 47% of consumers receive cost-sharing payments.

At the beginning of August, I asked experts what they expected for rate increases if the CSR payments were stopped. Three months ago, I was told it would likely cause an additional 20% increase in premiums. That number may be different now. I’ll use Blue Cross Blue Shield for example. Commissioner Godfread approved a 23% premium increase for an individual BCBS plan anticipating CSR payments. Without the payments, BCBS would have asked to raise rates by approximately 43%.

Hours before Trump declared he wouldn’t fulfill the CSR payments, Governor Burgum and Commissioner Godfread issued a joint statement praising a Trump Executive Order.

The empty promises of Obamacare have reduced choice and competition in health care markets and driven up health care costs for consumers and employers across North Dakota and the nation. As efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare continue, we’re grateful that President Trump is taking incremental steps toward providing consumers with more affordable coverage options, lower premiums and greater control over their own health care decisions. We look forward to collaborating with the White House and Commissioner Godfread to improve the health care system for all North Dakotans and deliver individualized, patient-centered health care in a cost-effective manner. – Governor Doug Burgum

Make no mistake, this uncertainty is caused by Congressional Republicans and the Republican President. Call it the “Republican Rate Hike” or the “Trump Tax.” North Dakota officials like Governor Doug Burgum and Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread have been all too eager to issue comments pointing blame solely on the original Obamacare law. They fail to acknowledge the impact their own actions and wishes.

This move by the President leaves a lot of questions. What will happen with your insurance? North Dakota didn’t take this into account when the rates were set. They weren’t allowed to by Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread. Will Commissioner Godfread take steps to adjust rates? Is that even allowed? Will insurance companies just be on the hook? Here is one thing I know for certain, they own it now. Whatever rate increases you see, or if you lose your insurance, it’s on Trump and his enablers. No more blaming Obama.