MNsure

Recent Articles

Affordable Care Act sign-up deadline: Mar. 31

Enroll now or wait until October to get health insurance
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Open enrollment for health coverage through MNsure ends March 31. According to officials, enrollment has increased 54 percent — about 56,000 new applications since December 31 — and its call center staffing has increased, with an average hold time of three minutes as opposed to an hour at the end of December. President Barack Obama told state and local elected officials during a February 24 conference call that he remains committed to work with them “to educate their residents about the importance of enrolling in health care before March 31,” said a White House press release. Despite its critics and misinformation about the law, along with the start-up problems last fall, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has “created new pathways” for uninsured individuals and families to get health coverage, said Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) officials. KFF officials spoke about the ACA and what it means for African Americans February 25 during an exclusive media conference call with National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) reporters, including the MSR.

“It’s likely in all states that more people who already were eligible for Medicaid before the ACA but not enrolled will likely now be covered,” said KFF Disparities Policy Project Director Samantha Artiga. Continue Reading →

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Communities of color receive 750K to promote MNsure

Website frustrations may have ‘scared off’ some Black enrollees
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Open enrollment for MNsure, the state’s health insurance marketplace, closes March 31. Stairstep Foundation President Alfred Babington-Johnson said, “It’s important for MNsure to be able to reach into communities with a sense of uniqueness of those communities, and not some kind of generic, cookie-cutter application [process]. “The case we made was [that] we have a different story to tell and we need to tell that story,” said Babington-Johnson. “The end result is that African Americans need health care.”

Minnesota State Senator Jeff Hayden told the MSR that $750,000 was allocated by MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange, for navigators training: Stairstep ($100,000), Minneapolis Urban League ($100,000) and Pillsbury United Communities ($80,000-$100,000) were among several local organizations that were awarded funds. Babington-Johnson believes that “the most organic instrument in our community is the African American church — a natural access to our people. Continue Reading →

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The MSR 2013 year in review

The local Black press continues to publish stories “from our own lens”
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

This year, 2013, was historic as well as a year-long full of highs and lows: Two MSR reporters were among the national and international press that covered America’s first Black president’s second inauguration in January. Said Atlanta Daily World reporter Kenya King, a member of the Black press who was covering the Obama inauguration for the second time, “I’m here to capture…the moment of this historic occasion [and] to make sure that the message that should get across, does get across.”

A ‘new Black agenda’ was discussed by the Council on Black Minnesotans and others during the organization’s Lobby Day at the State Capitol on March 19. The MSR asked several Blacks in attendance that day if they felt new voices and perhaps a new message is needed from Black Minnesotans. “I think it is time for new voices to be heard,” believed Greater Friendship Missionary

Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Billy Russell in our March 28 front-page story. The MSR also continued its coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the introduction of MNsure, the state’s new health-insurance exchange program and how the new healthcare law will benefit Blacks. Continue Reading →

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Basics of the nation’s new healthcare law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Dr. Dionne Hart, MD

What is the law known as “Obamacare” or the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? In March 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 that collectively reform healthcare access.  

What is the mandatory insurance provision? By 2014, most U.S. citizens and legal residents are required to obtain minimal essential health insurance coverage or pay a penalty or $95 per year or one percent of income, whichever is greater. The penalty will increase to $325 per year or two percent by 2015 and $695 or 2.5 percent by 2016. Continue Reading →

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MNsure offers lowest health insurance rates in U.S.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has determined that Minnesota’s rates for health insurance policies available through MNsure, the state’s health insurance marketplace, starting October 1, are confirmed as the lowest rates compared with the other states that have released rates including the District of Columbia – across all metal levels. The analysis conducted by the Commerce Department used data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) comparing the statewide averages for health insurance rates for the 36 states with federal health insurance marketplaces. Minnesota retained its ranking as offering the lowest average health insurance rates in the United States. “Any way you look at it, Minnesota’s long history of health reform, including Commerce’s rate review process, has truly benefited our state’s consumers,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Having the lowest rates in the country provides Minnesotans with more options, greater access, and more value for their money.”

The premium rates approved by the Commerce Department are 20 to 43 percent lower than our neighboring states: Iowa’s average bronze plan rate for a 27 year-old is $139, North Dakota is $185, Wisconsin is $189, and South Dakota is $196 per month for a bronze plan purchased by a 27 year-old. Continue Reading →

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National, local controversy greets opening of new state health exchange

Critics say Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox ad campaign misfires with communities of color
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange program, debuted the signup process on October 1. Officials during an October 4 conference call with reporters, including the MSR, estimated that 5,000 accounts were opened during the first week. “We think it’s been going very well,” remarked MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov. She added that many people did “anonymous shopping” but did not disclose specific numbers. “Minnesota is unique,” said Todd-Malmlov. Continue Reading →

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Minnesotans will begin choosing ‘Obamacare’ health plans October 1

State officials say MNsure will help address health disparities
 

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

 

Minnesotans soon can find competitive health insurance plans through MNsure, the state’s new health insurance marketplace, say State officials, who claim the program will help all Minnesotans, especially those from historically disadvantaged communities. “Minnesota today has the lowest average insurance rates in the country” compared to other state exchanges, proclaimed State Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman last week during a Sept. 6 press conference at the State Capitol. His office has approved five companies — Blue Cross Blue Shield, Group Health, Medica of Wisconsin, PreferredOne and UCare — to offer 141 health plans, 78 of them for individuals and families and 63 for small businesses, through MNsure beginning October 1, when open enrollment begins. Under MNsure’s four levels of plans, the monthly premium rates range from $90.59 (bronze) to $120.91 (silver), $141.16 (gold), and $150.75 (platinum). Continue Reading →

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Confusion widespread on Affordable Care Act

 
Enrollment in new MN health insurance exchange begins in October 
 
 
 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be in full force sooner rather than later, and U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison says every American will benefit from it. However, he sadly points out that there are “professional misinformation spreaders trying to confuse people” on the law. Ellison held two separate forums on the ACA July 2, first with local small business owners at the Minneapolis Urban League’s Northside headquarters, then with community folk across the street at the NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center. The first was attended by around 20 business people, but none were Black business owners. “We certainly reached out,” said Ellison of this absence. Continue Reading →

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State’s new health exchange weighs how best to enroll the uninsured

 

 

 

 
 Outreach and education essential to success
 

Open enrollment for the new MNsure health exchange program is slated to start this October. “This process of creating a Minnesota [health] exchange was a lengthy one,” states Stairstep Foundation CEO Alfred Babington-Johnson, a member of the health insurance exchange advisory task force. “The State of Minnesota was one of the first states” to work on developing an exchange since the Affordable Care Act became law three years ago, beginning with the formation of the task force. According to the state website (see below), “MNsure will be a simple, easy-to-use marketplace” for consumers to find the right health plans that suit their needs through a five-step process: 1) access the website for selection; 2) review health plans; 3) select a plan; 4) check to see if you qualify for tax credits or other health programs; and 5) complete the enrollment process. Babington-Johnson says that at least 31 percent of the state’s uninsured are low-income persons and people of color. Continue Reading →

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Minnesota adopts new MNsure health exchange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a new health exchange law on March 21, which is expected to enroll an estimated 1.3 Minnesotans starting next year, including 300,000 currently uninsured.  The health exchange is a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The new MNsure health exchange will mainly be used by those who can’t get affordable health insurance through their jobs and those on public health plans. Small businesses with 50 or fewer employees also can buy group plans through the exchange for their employees. It is expected to begin open enrollment on October 1, and coverage will take effect on January 1, 2014. As a result, national advocates strongly suggest that these new state marketplaces are “consumer-friendly,” especially for Blacks and other people of color. Continue Reading →

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