Reporting Chris Simon
There are three months to go before MNsure goes online in Minnesota in the run-up to open enrollment for universal healthcare.
Open enrollment for MNsure begins Oct. 1, with coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2014, and if the folks behind all of the magic and fanfare are to be believed it should be a snap to assess your family’s needs and buy your coverage online, should you find yourself without health insurance for whatever reason.
April Todd-Malmlove, the executive director of Minnesota’s new online health insurance marketplace, has a suggestion to help make the process go as smoothly as any online retail experience.
“The first place I would direct the public is to the video. It is about three minutes. It starts out by explaining what MNsure is,” Todd-Malmlove said. “There is also a ‘frequently asked questions’ link where we post a lot of questions that have been asked of us about the program and then list detailed responses.
“The first point is that you will be able to choose your own healthcare plan using clear out of pocket costs,” she said. “Secondly, MNsure will be able to instantly show you if you are eligible for any financial assistance or Federal tax credits. And thirdly, MNsure provides “Quality Ratings” on the plans and providers throughout the state.”
There is also a cost calculator right on the site so you can get a ballpark idea of your monthly costs, before and after any federal credits. The good news is that the credits are given when you sign up, so you do not have to wait the year for a refund.
“MNsure supplies the IRS with your income information and insurance status, so there is very little one would have to do, the information needed to file your income taxes will in most cases be in your W-2, so there should not be any extra burdens at tax filing time,” Todd-Malmlove said.
Like other retail sites, there are numerous ways to checkout.
“Of course, one can use their credit or debit card, online check or cash through our offices. Regardless of how they pay, their coverage is purchased as soon as they pay,” Todd-Malmlove said.
At the beginning of September, MNsure will augment its public relation outreach with a toll-free information line, where live operators will answer questions as the run-up to open enrollment enters its final 30 days. That number will be given out closer to end of August.