MNsure open enrollment begins with new software
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota’s marketplace for individual health insurance plans, MNsure, opens its 2019 enrollment period Thursday, Nov. 1, with new software to help customers compare options.
The state agency launched the new tool, from California-based technology company GetInsured, on Oct. 15. The company was founded in 2005 and provides services to four other state health insurance exchanges, according to its website.
Customers have been able to window shop using the new tool the last two weeks to compare insurance by components like premiums, copays, deductibles, out-of-pocket costs and covered prescriptions, but couldn’t enroll in plans until Nov. 1.
MNsure open enrollment runs until Jan. 13, 2019, but customers who want coverage by the start of next year need to sign up by Dec. 15.
The state has a $13 million contract with GetInsured that runs through 2022. Late next year, the company will launch another upgrade of MNsure’s online shopping tool that is scheduled to be in place for the 2020 open enrollment period, state officials said.
MNsure was plagued by technology problems when it first launched in 2013, but has had few issues in recent years. Only about 100,000 people purchase insurance on the individual market, but MNsure is also used to determine eligibility for government programs.
Nate Clark, MNsure CEO, said the new software should be able to help more customers understand if they qualify for help to pay for their insurance plans. At the time the new software launch, Clark said it had the potential to save customers “thousands.”
Individuals earning as much as $48,560 a year and a family of four earning up to $100,400 annually can qualify for federal tax breaks. Enrolling through MNsure is the only way customers can get the tax credits.
State officials announced Oct. 2 that premiums on the individual market for 2019 would decline for a second year in a row. Rates are expected to fall between 7 percent and 27 percent.
That change is largely thanks to a $541 million in state spending to create a reinsurance program that limits how much insurance companies have to pay for very sick patients. The program is set to expire and state health leaders say the lawmakers need to address work on legislation early next year to help keep the individual insurance market stable.
What lawmakers will do depends on the outcome of the Nov. 6 election.
Republicans want to get rid of MNsure and eliminate some insurance requirements in order to increase competition, which they say will bring down rates. They’ve also suggested returning to the “high-risk” insurance pool the state had before the federal Affordable Care Act was passed and MNsure was created.
Democrats support a proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton to expand access to MinnesotaCare, the state’s insurance program for the working poor.
Customers can shop for individual insurance plans and sign up on MNsure’s website, www.mnsure.org, by calling 651-539-2099 or 855-366-7873 or in person with a broker or navigator. The agency will have extended hours, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Nov. 1.