Tax reform could hurt ND insurance market

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Yesterday's tax vote has some insurance experts saying that it might lead to problems in the insurance market down the road.

Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread says that while he believes the individual mandate repeal was a start, not continuing to reform healthcare could bring trouble for North Dakota.

"It's on life support already. So with or without the individual mandate, the individual market was going to have some major trouble next year. What this does is, I think it put's pressure on Congress to come back for some health care reform,” said Godfread.

Dr. Chris Meeker with Sanford Health says repealing the individual mandate could leave millions without health insurance and on the hook for their treatment costs.

"People will still continue to use the emergency departments, but now without insurance they'll incur some of the cost themselves and the hospitals will also incur some increasing amount of bad debt associated with it,” said Meeker.

Some states' markets have already collapsed. "We don't have to go too far to see it in full-fledged collapse, that's your Iowa, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Those are our friends and neighbors essentially and they're facing crisis in their individual marketplace. So there's going to have to be a response," said Godfread.

Godfread is confident that legislation will be passed. He would also like to see the state and insurance providers have the flexibility to create custom plans for what the state needs.