North Dakota Medicaid

North Dakota Medicaid expanded, enrollment grows by 28 percent; but costs significantly higher than projected

Where in your state to call or visit for Medicaid.How to apply

Online at or the North Dakota Department of Human Services website.  You can also enroll by phone at 1-800-318-2596, or you can apply in person or by mail at your local County Social Services Office.

Who is eligible in your state to get Medicaid?Who is eligible

The aged, blind, and disabled.  Also, adults are eligible with household incomes up to 133% of poverty, and pregnant women with incomes up to 147% of poverty.  Children are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP with with household incomes up to 170% of poverty.

  • By
  • contributor
  • September 29, 2016

Medicaid expansion in North Dakota

North Dakota opted to expand Medicaid using federal funding, and about 35,000 residents were newly-eligible for expanded coverage starting starting in 2014. The state has created a helpful brochure to answer questions and provide information about Medicaid expansion. If you have other questions, you can contact the Department of Human Services at 855-794-7308.

Medicaid expansion was passed by the North Dakota Legislature and signed into law by Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple in April 2013. Dalrymple is generally opposed to the ACA, but he was the fourth Republican Governor to throw support behind the expansion of Medicaid in early 2013. Enrollment began in October 2013, with coverage effective January 2014.

North Dakota allowed private carriers to bid for the job of using federal Medicaid funds to provide health coverage to the newly-eligible population. Two carriers — Sanford Health Plan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota — placed bids, and Sanford ended up getting the state contract. Residents who are eligible for expanded Medicaid can contact Sanford Health Plan with questions at or call 855-305-5060 (Sanford member services).

Costs higher than expected

As has been the case in many states, the cost of expanding Medicaid has been higher than expected in North Dakota.  Sanford reported that the cost of claims among the Medicaid expansion group in 2014 averaged $1,215 per member, per month – far higher than the $352 average for their commercially-insured members.

Although the federal government has been paying the entire cost of providing coverage for the newly-eligible population for the first three years, the state will have to begin paying 5 percent of the cost starting in 2017. Originally, the North Dakota Department of Human Services modeled their expansion plans on projections that the state would pay $2.9 million in Medicaid expansion costs during the first half of 2017. But by 2015, that projection stood at $8.2 million.

In March 2016, amid a budget shortfall, North Dakota called for Medicaid reimbursement cuts for providers, which also result in a reduction in federal Medicaid matching funds. At that point, enrollment in North Dakota’s expanded Medicaid was around 20,500 people, which was around the lower end of the state’s original estimate of how many people would become newly eligible for coverage under the expanded guidelines.

Who is eligible for North Dakota Medicaid?

Because North Dakota has expanded Medicaid under the ACA, low-income adults without dependent children are eligible for the first time in 2014.  Medicaid is available to the following legally-present North Dakota residents, contingent on immigration guidelines:

  • Adults with household income up to 133 percent of poverty (138 percent after the built-in 5 percent income disregard – income limits for various family sizes are here).
  • Children age 0 – 5 with household income up to 147 percent of poverty, and children 6 – 18 with household income up to 133 percent of poverty.
  • CHIP is available to children with household incomes up to 170 percent of poverty (about $40,545 for a family of four).  This is the lowest eligibility cap in the nation for CHIP, but families slightly above this threshold qualify for subsidies in the exchange.
  • Pregnant women with household income up to 147 percent of poverty.

How do I enroll?

Enrollment in Medicaid is year-round; you do not need to wait for an open enrollment period if you’re eligible for Medicaid

  • North Dakota uses the federally-run insurance marketplace, so you can enroll through or use their call center at 1-800-318-2596.
  • You can use the North Dakota Department of Human Services website to enroll online directly through the state.
  • You can print a paper application and submit it to your local County Social Services Office.
  • You can call or visit your County Social Services Office (click on your county to see contact information) for in-person or phone assistance with enrollment

Enrollment numbers

During the first open enrollment period (October 2013 through April 2014) 6,843 people in North Dakota enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP through, and another 2,013 people enrolled during the second open enrollment period. But people can enroll directly through North Dakota Medicaid as well, and enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP continue year-round; there’s no limited enrollment window.  From the fall of 2013 to July 2016, total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment in North Dakota increased by 28 percent, from 69,980 to 89,460 enrollees.

According to US Census data, the uninsured rate in North Dakota fell from 10.4 percent in 2013 to 7.9 percent in 2014; a 24 percent reduction. But from 2014 to 2015, North Dakota was one of just three states that did not experience a statistically significant change in uninsured rate, according to census data released in September 2016.