Hamm says N.D. insurance customers favor basic benefitsWhen given a budget and a chance to choose health benefits, North Dakota customers prefer broad, basic insurance plans with preventive care, a state Insurance Department study says. But they rejected “lifestyle” benefits such as coverage of impotence drugs, according to the study announced Wednesday.
By: Associated Press, Grand Forks Herald
BISMARCK — When given a budget and a chance to choose health benefits, North Dakota customers prefer broad, basic insurance plans with preventive care, a state Insurance Department study says.
But they rejected “lifestyle” benefits such as coverage of impotence drugs, according to the study announced Wednesday.
Small groups were asked to choose from a menu of possible insurance benefits, including hospital and drug coverage, preventive care, dental and vision benefits, and mental health care.
The exercise, called Choosing Health Plans All Together, or CHAT, was conducted over 17 sessions last year. Researchers at the University of Michigan and the National Institutes of Health developed CHAT.
Participants initially were asked to pick their preferred plan. Then they met and were asked to design a group insurance plan they could agree upon.
Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm said the groups preferred spreading their health care dollars among most of the categories, without choosing more expensive options — such as lower deductibles — in any one category.
They favored coverage for preventive care, and did not include insurance for “lifestyle” benefits such as impotence and infertility treatments and hair transplants, Hamm said.
“They wanted to get as many of those different categories and basic needs filled as possible, instead of trying to build a rich plan in one or two areas,” he said.
Hamm said the North Dakota Legislature may use the report to consider whether to keep some mandated health-insurance coverage plans.
The North Dakota report has also been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in hopes that it will be used to help design a standard, basic benefits package, Hamm said.
In all, 143 people took part in the sessions, while 79 did the CHAT exercise on the Insurance Department’s website, the report says. The agency said they represented all income and age levels; many had health insurance through their jobs, while others were uninsured or on Medicaid. Seventy percent of participants were women.
North Dakota CHAT report: http://tinyurl.com/246dz36