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Sunday December 10th 2017

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BeSure of MnSure: new health insurance options

By Leigh Grauman, Portico Health Net

Can you afford to see a doctor when you feel sick? Can you get your teeth cleaned without worrying about how much it will cost? For many Minnesotans, that answer is no. There are about 500,000 people in Minnesota without health insurance, and even more who have insurance but struggle to pay for it.

The new Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare’, will take effect on January 1st. While this law will help more people become insured, most of us don’t understand how it will work or who will benefit.

MnSure plans to offer the answers. MnSure is Minnesota’s health insurance exchange. Through the MnSure website, people needing health insurance can look up their options, compare private insurance plans, and apply for state health programs like MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance.

Some people will be able to have insurance starting in 2014, even if they didn’t qualify or couldn’t afford it in the past. Starting on January 1, if you have a pre-existing health condition, private insurance companies can no longer deny your application or charge you a higher premium. Tax credits will also be available to make insurance is more affordable for some people. Through MnSure, you will be able to compare what is covered by different insurance plans and how much they cost.

The state health programs will also change in 2014. Medical Assistance will have higher income limits for adults, and assets won’t be counted in the application process. MinnesotaCare will no longer require people to be uninsured before they enroll, and immigrants with sponsors are more likely to qualify.

Even with MnSure’s one-stop format, it can be difficult to understand what health care reform means for you and your family. Portico Healthnet is a local nonprofit organization that helps people know their options and access health care coverage. Portico Healthnet guides people through the application process for Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, provides information on low-cost health services, and offers its own health coverage program. As one of the organizations chosen by the state to help people enroll through MnSure, Portico Healthnet offers free assistance to people in your community. To find out more and get help either in person or over the phone, please contact Portico Healthnet: 651-489-CARE or www.porticohealthnet.org.

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