By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the coming months, 1.3 million Minnesotans are expected to sign up to get health coverage through MNsure.

That’s the state’s “health insurance exchange” that’s being established as part of what’s commonly referred to as ObamaCare.

An estimated 300,000 of those expected to sign up currently do not have health insurance. But some people say the system already has problems.

For all the debate over health care reform, the real impact has barely been felt. That will come in January 2014 when the requirement that every American has to have health insurance goes into effect.

States are required to set up health insurance exchanges were consumers can purchase health insurance and find out what federal subsidies they may qualify for. Minnesota’s exchange is MNsure.

While MnSure’s website is already up and consumers and small businesses can plug in their information to get premium estimates, the estimates are based on national models and are not what Minnesota’s rates are actually going to be. Critics say this is confusing and that Minnesota is behind other states, including California that are already listing premiums.

Congressman Keith Ellison will begin holding forums this week on MNsure. He appeared on WCCO Sunday morning.

“This is going to bring thousands and thousands, 1.3 million Minnesotans, according to my estimates, into a place where they can get health care. If you make $92,000 a year, you can get a subsidy from your family to lower the cost of that health care,” Ellison said.

The actual premium costs for MNsure may not be available until October.

Another problem: MNsure has admitted that their cost calculator inflates the premium estimates for individuals whose income is too high to qualify for a federal subsidy.

Regardless of what the MNsure premiums end up being, anyone who does not have health insurance will start paying a tax penalty in 2014, which could be as much as one percent of their total income.

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