Minnesota health insurance exchange
About 11,00 enrolled through MNsure in October
By Carla Anderson
November 7, 2013
As of early November, about 28,000 accounts have been created on MNsure. Nearly 11,000 people have obtained coverage. Most have been eligible for MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance, which are programs available to low-income individuals. About 1,750 people have enrolled in private health plans. In mid-October, MNsure reported that 355 small businesses had created accounts.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a report Sept. 25 showing that Minnesotans enjoy the nation’s lowest average premiums on the new health insurance marketplaces. The average cost for “bronze” plan, the least expensive plans offered on the exchanges, is $144 a month through MNsure. The national average is $249. While the low average is certainly good news, premiums will vary across Minnesota with the lowest rates available around the Twin Cities and the highest rates in the southeast part of the state.
The good news on premiums comes on the heels of bad news about privacy and data security. MNsure drew scrutiny in September when an employee emailed sensitive information to an insurance broker. The employee, who no longer works for MNsure, emailed a file containing the Social Security numbers and other personal information for about 1,600 insurance brokers. Exchange officials rushed to reassure the exchange board and the public that the breach did not include any consumer data. They also emphasized that the breach was due to human error, not weaknesses in the computer systems that consumers will use to compare and purchase insurance.
Minnesotans can purchase individual and family coverage from four insurers: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica, PreferredOne, and UCare.
MNsure expects more than 900,000 state residents will use the insurance exchange to purchase coverage for 2014 and up to 1.3 million people to do so by 2016. Minnesota’s current underinsured rate is 9 percent according to Kaiser’s statehealthfacts.org.
MNsure’s annual operating costs are estimated at $50 to $60 million. In late October, MNsure received a $41 million federal grant. The grant money will be used to make technology improvements and to fund general operations. Future operating costs will be funded by withholding a portion of premiums. The withhold rate was set at 1.5 percent during an early November board meeting.
Minnesota health insurance exchange links
State Exchange Profile: Minnesota
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Minnesota’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.