BISMARCK, N.D.-North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm today released the results of a study on North Dakota consumers' health insurance priorities. CHAT, which stands for Choosing Healthplans All Together, gathered input from consumers around the state about their health insurance priorities.
CHAT is a computerized exercise that allows players to make choices concerning health insurance. There's a catch, though-there are more choices than resources. Players must pick and choose between the available options and come up with the most basic health plan they can afford.
"There is no better time to be discussing what consumers want from their health insurance," Hamm said. "Understanding the needs of our citizens is critical as the federal government begins to define essential benefits and standardized plans under the health care reform law."
Under the federal health care reform law, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will define the breadth of coverage in an essential benefits package, which will determine the coverage available to individuals and small businesses through the health insurance exchanges that become available in 2014. The Insurance Department sent a copy of the CHAT report to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS.
Three common themes emerged during the study that influenced participants' decisions:
• Preventative care is important in controlling future costs.
• Reasonable access for rural residents to doctors and facilities is critical.
• It is important to cover as many basic needs as possible instead of offering a rich, but spotty, plan.
"The CHAT project was a unique opportunity for North Dakotans to speak directly to the Insurance Department about what they think is important in basic health insurance coverage," Hamm said.
Seventeen CHAT sessions were held July-October 2009 in 10 cities. WebCHAT, an online version of the exercise, also took place during that time. North Dakota was the fifth state in the nation to conduct a CHAT study, and the first to incorporate webCHAT.
Read the complete CHAT report at www.nd.gov/ndins/about/chat. For more information, call 1-800-247-0560.