South Dakota health insurance exchange
Initial enrollment low for three insurers participating in South Dakota marketplace
By Louise Norris
November 29, 2013
In the first full month of open enrollment, applications were completed for more than 3000 people in South Dakota. By November 2, however, only 58 of them had finalized their plan selection. By November 12, that number had increased to 116, but many more people are expected to complete enrollment by December 23, the deadline for a January 1 effective date. South Dakota’s enrollment in the first month was the third lowest of the 34 states that are using HealthCare.gov for their exchanges – this is not surprising however, given the state’s low population and an uninsured rate that is lower than the national average.
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced in late September 2012 that HHS would be running the state’s exchange, citing the high cost — estimated at $6.3 to $7.7 million — for ongoing operation of the exchange.
Three insurers are offering policies through the marketplace in South Dakota: Avera Health Plans, Sanford Health Plan, and DAKOTACARE. The three companies are offering a total of 38 options for individuals and families. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans to join the South Dakota marketplace for the 2015 open enrollment period, which begins on November 15, 2014.
On November 26, the state announced that it would allow carriers to extend existing policies per President Obama’s suggestion that non-compliant plans be allowed to remain in effect for one more year. Sanford and DAKOTACARE have both opted to allow existing policies to be renewed into 2014, giving current insureds another option to compare with the new 2014 plans.
According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average cost for a bronze plan —the lowest-cost option — in South Dakota is $298 a month. The national average for a bronze policy is $249 a month.
The state is not playing any role in promoting the new health insurance options or educating consumers about the marketplace. That decision leaves outreach efforts to the insurers and federally funded “navigators.” Navigators are affiliated with established community outreach and advocacy groups, and they are trained to help consumers understand and use the new online marketplace.
According to HHS, more than 92,000 South Dakotans (13 percent of the state population) are uninsured and eligible to use the marketplace.
Open enrollment for coverage in 2014 runs from Oct. 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. Policies must be purchased by Dec. 15 for coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2014.
South Dakota health insurance exchange links
State Exchange Profile: South Dakota
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of South Dakota’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.