ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Individual health insurance coverage will be available for as low as $91 a month beginning next year through Minnesota’s new health insurance exchange.
State officials released the first look Friday at health insurance plans and rates to be sold on MNsure, Minnesota’s vehicle for delivering requirements of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The exchange — also known as a marketplace — is scheduled to go live Oct. 1, with the first coverage sold set to take effect Jan. 1.
Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said Minnesota will offer the lowest average rates compared with the 17 other states that have released rates so far. Officials could not promise people will pay less compared to current coverage, but said they are confident customers will get more for their money.
Exchange managers expect to attract 1 million participants, with about half qualifying for PPACA health insurance tax credit subsidies. People can’t be kept from buying plans on the exchange due to pre-existing medical conditions, and there are caps on out-of-pocket costs for participants.
Five companies are selling a total of 141 individual, family and business plans on the exchange. The five companies are Blue Cross Blue Shield, HealthPartners, Medica, PreferredOne and UCare. Not all those insurers will be available to all Minnesotans, but residents in 85 percent of Minnesota counties will have three or more options to choose from. Every participant will have at least two insurers from which to choose.
“The low-cost range of prices allows consumers to consider the benefits of various plans, not just prices, as they choose their insurance,” Rothman said.
The lowest-cost option of $90.59 a month applies to a 25-year-old non-smoker who lives in the Twin Cities. The highest individual rate that’s listed in Commerce Department materials was $407.51 a month for a 60-year-old in the Twin Cities who opts for a “platinum” plan. The plans are divided into four categories — bronze, silver, gold and platinum, which are based on the percentage of an enrollee’s health costs that the plan will cover.
The rate structures are complicated and depend on participants’ ages, the number of people in their household and where they live.