With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare, Minnesotans have new options in how they obtain private health insurance. Minnesota implemented a state-run marketplace, MNsure, and also chose to expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income adults. This will result in thousands of uninsured Minnesotans having access to insurance who were not able to obtain it in the past.

Purchasing Health Insurance in Minnesota

Minnesota’s marketplace does not have 24-hour access. Account creation and application access is available from 6am – midnight every day. Additional questions can be answered through the call center at 1-855-366-7873. The call center is available 8am – 8pm Monday through Friday and 9am – 4:30pm on Saturdays.

MNsure has had some technical problems that have hindered Minnesotans from completing applications and selecting insurance. Despite the issues, as of January 18th, a total of 80,085 citizens had successfully enrolled through MNsure. Minnesota residents who encounter difficulties may find these tips helpful:

  • Make sure your web browser is up to date and that you are not trying access the website on a phone or tablet.
  • Don’t use the back arrow on the browser while completing an application, as that will cause an error. Use the MNsure Home button on the page instead.
  • Passwords must have at least one numeric character, at least one uppercase and one lowercase letter, and one special character.
  • Avoid special characters, such as dashes, commas, and periods, when entering your name and address.

All applications made through the state marketplace will be automatically reviewed for coverage under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as for all eligible financial assistance. Minnesotans who make between 100% – 400% of the federal poverty level will qualify for assistance with health insurance premiums and those who earn between 100% – 250% of the federal poverty level will also be able to obtain assistance with cost-sharing, such as deductibles and copayments. Through March 31st, 2014, the end of the open enrollment period, the marketplace will use the 2013 poverty level, which was $23,550 for a family of four.

Uninsured Minnesotans should be sure to obtain health insurance before March 31, 2014 or they will face a tax penalty. Citizens who have job-based insurance, Medicare, or other qualified plans are considered covered under the ACA and do not need additional insurance. If insurance is unobtainable due to finances or another circumstance, an exemption can be applied for to avoid the tax penalty.

American Indians have special rights with MNsure. The marketplace will allow American Indians to obtain insurance for any medical needs that cannot be covered by IHS, Tribal or Urban Indian Healthcare Facilities, such as hospital stays or specialty care. These citizens can still go to their usual facilities, and will not pay cost-sharing at them. Some Minnesota tribes are helping their members pay insurance premiums for marketplace plans.

Medicaid and CHIP in Minnesota

With expanded eligibility for Medicaid, many lower-income Minnesotans will be newly eligible for this coverage. To determine eligibility, citizens can fill out a marketplace application or contact the state office directly. Because of the new guidelines, lower-income residents are encouraged to apply even if they have been turned down in the past.

Families that have a moderate income and do not qualify for Medicaid may still be able to gain coverage for uninsured children through CHIP. This coverage, called Minnesota Care, provides doctor visits, immunizations, vision and dental care, and more. Working closely with Medicaid, Minnesota Care makes sure the children of Minnesota begin life in a healthy way.

Minnesotans have a variety of new options for health insurance due to the passage of the ACA. Whether a citizen qualifies for Medicaid, Minnesota Care, or other financial assistance in the Marketplace, uninsured Minnesotans have a better chance of finding coverage than ever before. Knowing the options and making the right choice for each family will lead Minnesota into a healthy future.