Friday marked the deadline for health care insurers to submit for state approval their plans to sell insurance through the public exchange called MNSure.
While the complete list of companies that applied is not publicly available, the Minnesota Department of Commerce disclosed Tuesday that nine companies filed to sell plans on the exchange. And local media reports indicate that several of the state’s largest players are among them.
Public exchanges are mandated by the federal health reform law, which granted states the choice to build their own or face a federally imposed version. Minnesota elected to build its own, called MNsure, and Governor Mark Dayton in March signed a law to establish the exchange.
The exchanges are expected to give consumers—who, under the Affordable Care Act, will be required to purchase insurance or face monetary penalties—expanded options, while also potentially boosting competition among insurers. The exchange will offer individual plans and also provide a place for businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees to shop for coverage.
Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Bloomington-based HealthPartners, Minnetonka-based Medica, and Minneapolis-based UCare are all seeking approval from the state to compete on the exchange, according to a Star Tribune report. Blue Cross and Medica reportedly aim to offer plans for individuals and small businesses, while HealthPartners wants to offer just individual plans.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has until mid-July to determine which insurance plans will be made available on the exchange, but the department won’t make that information publicly available until the plans’ rates become effective, which is likely to coincide with open enrollment on October 1. That is when Minnesotans will be able to review their insurance options; they may begin purchasing coverage through MNsure starting January 1.
Dayton’s office has said that roughly 1.3 million Minnesotans, or one in five, are expected to use MNsure to access health coverage, and an estimated 300,000 previously uninsured Minnesotans will gain coverage through MNsure by 2016.