Questions remain as state insurance exchange goes live


Plans for MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange, have been in place for months. Even so, questions accompanied Tuesday’s launch of the program.
“We still don’t know what prices will be,” Lake Central Insurance agent Paul Manuel said Monday. 
Though the exact prices were not available before the launch, MNsure officials announced on Sept. 26 that the five levels of coverage would come with the lowest average monthly premiums among state-based and federal insurance marketplaces.
Those five levels are catastrophic, bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
Catastrophic coverage is for those under 30 years old who are healthy and only seeking financial protection from the most expensive conditions.
“Bronze is a 60-40 coinsurance plan,” Manuel said. “After you satisfy the deductible, the insurance company will pay 60 percent and you’ll pay 40 percent. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s bronze plan has a deductible of $3,300.”
Silver coverage has a 70-30 split with a lower deductible and the gold coverage split is 80-20, with an even lower deductible. Platinum coverage provides a 90-10 split with the lowest deductible.
“Obviously, the more coverage you have, the higher the monthly price will be,” Manuel said. “But, there is no plan that covers 100 percent.”
Manuel believes that new plans from the companies in the exchange will be the same whether they are purchased from MNsure or not.
“The benefit of the exchange is you can comparison shop,” Manuel said. “If you qualify for tax credits, you need to buy insurance through the exchange to receive those credits. If not, you can buy it outside of the exchange.”
MNsure includes plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield, HealthPartners, Medica, PreferredOne and UCare.
All the plans can be perused at, but Manuel recommends looking closely at plans and where they can be used before making a purchase.
More information appears in this week's Messenger.
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