The Health Care marketplace has been open since the beginning of October, and although applicants faced early challenges enrolling, the process is moving ahead. As one of 32 states that opted to default to the federally-run exchange, uninsured and eligible North Dakotans go directly to the www.healthcare.gov website to find a policy that best fits them. Darrold Bertsch, CEO of Sakakawea Medical Center and Coal Country Community Health Center, said it could be prudent for those without insurance to wait a brief period. “It’s still our mindset to encourage people to ‘hurry up and wait’ until the bugs get worked out,” Bertsch said. “You’ve got until Dec. 15 to enroll in a plan and be eligible Jan. 1.” Although Dec. 15 is the deadline to enroll to receive coverage starting with the new year, open enrollment will continue until March 31. After that those not enrolled who remain uninsured will receive a penalty of $95 per adult, $47.50 per child or one percent of their income. Megan Dierks, the Outreach/Enrollment Specialist at CCCHC, went through specific training to walk people through the application process. “It is fairly lengthy and some people might need guidance in using the computer or who don’t know about health insurance,” Dierks said.
The dollar gauges at fuel pumps are taking a dive and are expected to hit their lowest prices in almost a year. North Dakota motorists are paying the cheapest gas prices since January, said Gene LaDoucer of North Dakota AAA in Fargo. Fuel pumps across the state dropped an average of 17 cents in the last month, settling at $3.28 per gallon Monday. “It’s a culmination of things including the fact that we haven’t seen any active hurricanes affecting oil producing regions of the country,” he said. “It’s a nice mixture of positive news for a change, which is helping in lowering prices for consumers.” Local drivers are also seeing a drop in price. Hazen averaged $3.29 per gallon, a 10-cent decrease from a month ago. That’s also 35 cents down from last year. Beulah saw a slightly larger decrease, hitting $3.27 a gallon. The price is 14 cents down from a month ago and 37 cents from last year.