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Governor Dayton Urges Passage of MinnesotaCare Buy-In to Give Minnesotans Another, More Affordable Choice for Health Insurance

3/1/2018 11:29:42 AM

Dayton Administration heard from Minnesotans at Town Hall Meetings across the state last fall about the need for a MinnesotaCare Buy-In option
MinnesotaCare Buy-In would provide an estimated 100,000 Minnesotans, particularly Greater Minnesota residents, another more affordable choice for health insurance
MinnesotaCare Buy-In would be funded by enrollee premiums, requiring Minnesotans to pay their own way for coverage while limiting costs for taxpayers to initial start-up expenses
Rising insurance costs and limited choices have caused Minnesota’s uninsured rate to increase, adding to the urgency of giving all Minnesotans another more affordable choice for coverage
ST. PAUL, MN – Governor Mark Dayton today urged state legislators to support and pass a “MinnesotaCare Buy-In” option this session. The proposal would allow all Minnesotans the choice to purchase their health insurance through MinnesotaCare – a state program that for 26 years has provided some eligible working Minnesota families a more affordable choice to purchase their health care. By giving every Minnesotan this choice, MinnesotaCare Buy-In would expand health care choices for Minnesotans everywhere in the state, increase competition in the individual health insurance market, and save Minnesotans money. The need for MinnesotaCare Buy-In was underscored by recently released data showing that Minnesota’s uninsured rate increased by 46 percent last year alone, due in part to rising insurance costs, leaving approximately 349,000 Minnesotans without coverage in 2017.
“Last year, my Administration heard from Minnesotans at town hall meeting across the state who want the choice to purchase health insurance through MinnesotaCare, which has been a source of affordable, quality coverage for Minnesotans for 26 years,” said Governor Dayton. “I urge the Legislature to pass the MinnesotaCare Buy-In this year, to guarantee that all Minnesotans will have another good option for high-quality, more affordable health care, wherever they live.”
MinnesotaCare Buy-In would reduce costs and improve access for an estimated 100,000 more Minnesotans who purchase their own health insurance on the individual market. Unlike traditional MinnesotaCare enrollees who receive subsidized coverage, individuals who choose MinnesotaCare Buy-In would pay their own way – meaning the cost of their premiums would pay for their coverage.
“MinnesotaCare has been a proven health care choice since 1992 – providing Minnesotans access to quality, affordable coverage,” said State Rep. Clark Johnson. “We think all Minnesotans should have the option to purchase MinnesotaCare Buy-In coverage if it makes sense for them and their families. I urge my Republican colleagues in the Minnesota House to hold a hearing on MinnesotaCare Buy-In as soon as possible. Our families can’t wait another year to start the conversation.”
Last fall, the Dayton Administration held town hall meetings to discuss the MinnesotaCare Buy-In proposal in Duluth, St. Cloud, Willmar, Worthington, and White Bear Lake. Joined by state legislators and health care advocates, the Administration reviewed the proposals with Minnesotans, heard their health care stories, and discussed strategies for improving access to affordable health insurance.
“I have heard from farmers who pay more than $40,000 out-of-pocket before they get any help from their health insurance, while other farmers cannot afford any coverage at all,” said Minnesota Farmers Union President Gary Wertish. “A MinnesotaCare Buy-In would provide another option to help ensure that farmers and other small business owners can get the quality health insurance coverage they need.”
Responding to this public input, Governor Dayton has adjusted the MinnesotaCare Buy-In proposal. Under the revised proposal, MinnesotaCare Buy-In would reimburse medical care providers at the same rate as Medicare enrollees, which would strengthen the financial health of small, often rural practices. MinnesotaCare Buy-In also would reduce uncompensated care costs (which cost Minnesota hospitals $580 million in 2016) by helping more Minnesotans afford the quality health insurance they need, at prices they can better afford.
“MinnesotaCare Buy-In would bring needed stability to the individual insurance market. It would ensure that people who buy their own insurance – farmers, small business owners, entrepreneurs – have at least one option for affordable, compressive coverage,” said State Sen. Tony Lourey. “MinnesotaCare Buy-In received bipartisan support in the Minnesota Senate last year. I look forward to working with my colleagues to build on that progress this Session.”
MinnesotaCare Buy-In would expand health insurance choices for families across the state, especially those in Greater Minnesota. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 Minnesotans would enroll in MinnesotaCare Buy-In if given the choice. By leveraging the state’s competitive bidding process, the State of Minnesota could strike a better bargain for these Minnesotans – delivering lower health insurance costs for Minnesota families at no ongoing cost to taxpayers.
How MinnesotaCare Buy-In Would Work
MinnesotaCare provides high-quality, lower-cost health coverage for over 89,000 Minnesotans. Governor Dayton’s proposal would give all Minnesotans who purchase their insurance on the individual market the choice to buy MinnesotaCare Buy-In. Read more below to learn how MinnesotaCare Buy-In would work to improve access and reduce costs for Minnesotans.
·         Enrollees Pay Their Own Way – MinnesotaCare Buy-In is not free. It is a health insurance policy just like those offered by commercial health plans. The premiums paid by “MinnesotaCare Buy-In” enrollees would pay for the cost of their policies, just like any other. This plan would require no additional ongoing costs for Minnesota taxpayers. 
·         Eligible for Federal Tax Credits – MinnesotaCare Buy-In would have cost, on average, an estimated $469 per person per month in 2018, if the Legislature had passed this proposal last session. Minnesotans who purchase MinnesotaCare Buy-In would still be eligible for federal tax credits through MNsure, which saved individual market enrollees an average of $7,000 on their health insurance premiums last year.
·         More Health Insurance Choices – Limited health insurance options in Greater Minnesota make it difficult for some Minnesotans to choose and keep their own doctors. But the broad network of physicians and care providers available through MinnesotaCare would offer more families, all across Minnesota, a real option to choose and keep their own doctors.
·         A Sustainable Option with No Ongoing Costs to Taxpayers – After a one-time startup cost ($13 million), MinnesotaCare Buy-In would be funded entirely by the premiums of those who buy MinnesotaCare coverage. This plan would require no additional ongoing costs for Minnesota taxpayers. And with less than 3 percent overhead for the current program, MinnesotaCare has already proven it is more efficient, competitive, and accountable than many commercial health plans.
Learn More about MinnesotaCare Buy-In
To learn more about the MinnesotaCare Buy-In proposal, click on the following links:
·         Learn More – Learn more about the MinnesotaCare Buy-In proposal, including the five most important things you need to know about how this plan will provide high-quality, affordable health coverage for Minnesotans. [Link]
·         Get the Facts – Get the facts about how MinnesotaCare Buy-In would work to provide lower health insurance premiums to more Minnesotans. [Link]
·         Get Your Questions Answered – Take a look at 15 of the most frequently-asked questions about the MinnesotaCare Buy-In proposal. [Link]
Minnesota’s Uninsured Rate Increased to 6.3 Percent in 2017
After previously reaching a historic low of 4.3 percent in 2016, the Minnesota Health Access Survey found that Minnesota’s uninsured rate increased to 6.3 percent in 2017, leaving over 349,000 Minnesotans without health coverage. About 116,000 fewer Minnesotans had health coverage in 2017 than the last time this survey was conducted in 2015. The rising cost of health insurance, lack of access and choice, and uncertainty caused by the federal government, were some of the leading causes for the elevated uninsured rate. The data also show that historic disparities continue to exist – uninsured individuals were more likely to be lower income, young adults, people of color, or American Indians. The full report is online.
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