North Dakotans Play Health Insurance Computer Game

health Insurance in North Dakota
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A computer game called CHAT - Choosing Health Plans All Together - will help people in North Dakota suggest a basic health insurance plan. North Dakota’s Insurance Department is hosting the program.

According to the North Dakota Insurance Department website, “CHAT brings small groups of consumers together to make health insurance decisions and learn from each other.” CHAT is the first study of its kind in North Dakota. The exercise was developed by ethics and health policy experts at the University of Michigan and the National Institutes of Health.

Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm noted that the purpose is to help its residents “better understand health insurance” while he hopes it will also help his department “learn directly from consumers what they want and need from their health insurance.”

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Those consumers were chosen from a broad base of citizens, including students, single working people, employers and business owners, parents, and the unemployed. Some of the participants will do the internet-based exercise on their own, while others will meet in groups of six to 15, along with a facilitator, at locations throughout the state.

The participants will discuss and make decisions about which health insurance benefits are important to them and which are not; for example, prescription drugs, dental care, vision coverage, hospital visits, and organ transplants. They will then develop a health insurance plan that includes their choices. Participants will then be presented with sample medical problems and asked whether the health insurance plan they put together would cover the situation. They can then make changes to their plan if desired.

After all the group members have made their individual choices, they will discuss a health insurance plan that would cover all of them. It takes approximately 2 to 2 ½ hours to complete the CHAT.

Thirteen different locations around the state will host these health insurance “parties”: Bismarck, Bottineau, Bowman, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Harvey, Jamestown, LaMoure, Minot, Wahpeton, and Williston. The information gathered from the sessions will be presented to a legislative interim committee that is studying health insurance costs.

SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune 8/16/09
North Dakota Insurance Department release, 7/15/09

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