From the Minnesota Department of Commerce

Minn. Health Reform 101 - What you need to know

By KBJR News 1

Minn. Health Reform 101 - What you need to know

October 1, 2013 Updated Oct 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM CST

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Open Enrollment and MNsure launches today in Minnesota as the federal Health Care Reform goes into effect.

As consumers across the state start planning for their insurance needs for Open Enrollment and the opening of Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace, the Minnesota Department of Commerce urges consumers to brush up on their insurance terms and learn about the health reform changes.

This is the beginning for the initial open enrollment period for products that will provide coverage beginning January 1st, 2014. Open enrollment for the first year of operation will run six months, until March 31st, 2014.

Consumers who have not bought insurance before, open enrollment might be a new concept. Open enrollment is the specific time of the year that someone can buy or change their insurance coverage. This year’s open enrollment applies to the new, enhanced benefit plans (including the Essential Health Benefits) and whether someone wants to buy coverage through MNsure or not.

Do I need to buy insurance during open enrollment?
In general, Minnesotans that already have health insurance coverage do not need to buy a new plan.

Consumers that have “minimum essential coverage” which includes government-program coverage like Medicare, Medicaid/Medical Assistance, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), veteran’s coverage and TRICARE, or employer-sponsored coverage or individually purchased coverage do not need to purchase new coverage.

However, it does not include plans that have limited benefits, like vision or dental plans, disability policies, or worker’s compensation plans. And beginning in 2015, high risk pool coverage and certain self-insured student plans will no longer qualify as “minimum essential coverage”.

Why should I look at new health insurance coverage during open enrollment?
Open enrollment is the best time for Minnesotans to explore coverage options – especially if you are an uninsured individual or family needing private insurance coverage. If you already have insurance coverage in the individual market, open enrollment is a good time to learn about the new benefits that will be available or to see whether you qualify for financial assistance if you purchase health insurance through MNsure.

If you are uninsured, once open enrollment ends, it will be harder to get coverage. After March 31st, 2014, health insurance companies will not be required to accept people applying for individual policies until the next open enrollment.

Health Reform and Health Insurance – What Minnesotans need to know:
Essential Health Benefits
Individual and small group health plans will need to include a comprehensive set of benefits, covering services like hospitalization, emergency care, maternity care, and prescriptions.

Consumers & Employers
How MNsure and Open Enrollment will impact consumers and employers.

Rates and Premiums
Your premiums can only vary based on your age, where you live and whether you smoke.

Open Enrollment
Open enrollment for MNsure, Minnesota’s online health insurance marketplace, begins on October 1, 2014. If you buy a health plan through MNsure, you may qualify for financial help to purchase a policy or to reduce the amount you pay for care.

Help to Find Coverage
Agents, brokers, navigators, and other assisters are available to help you find coverage, whether or not you want to enroll in coverage through MNsure.

Scams and Frauds
Health reform has created new opportunities for scams, but there are many things you can watch out for when you’re buying coverage to prevent being a victim.

Still need help understanding your health insurance?
Check out Insurance 101 on the Minnesota Department of Commerce's webpage. You can also contact the department's Consumer Response Team by calling 651-539-1600 or toll-free at 1-800-657-3602 (in Greater Minnesota).

Posted to the web by Krista Burns
kburns@kbjr.com