By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For all the debate that has already surrounded the President’s Health Care Reform plan, the most significant portion of the plan has not even been put in place.

But that is about to change.

The mandate that all Americans carry health insurance will go into effect this January.

How this will be put into effect in Minnesota is being planned right now.

In less than five months, Minnesota and states across the country will open health care exchanges where consumers will be able to purchase health insurance. Minnesota’s exchange is called MNsure and the state is predicting that 1.3 million people — that is one in five Minnesotans — will use it to purchase insurance.

MNsure’s website is open and there is a calculator that you can use to see how much coverage will cost. According to the calculator, a family of four making $50,000 would end up paying $280 a month for coverage.

But the health care exchanges are unchartered territory. And critics say MNsure’s estimates of how many people will use the exchange are too high. MNsure is planning an advertising blitz to let people know what they are offering.

But that has been controversial, too, with those critics wanting an advance look at the marketing campaign. The executive director of MNsure April Todd-Malmlov appeared on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“We are projecting that 1.3 million Minnesotans will use MNsure but that is by 2016 so we know it will take a few years to ramp up and there really are different populations there,” she said. “One of the larger populations are those people on Medicaid and those people on MnCare and the majority of those will be transferred without needing to use the website and those will go through the rest of the consumers. We are using the marketing to get them, to encourage them to enroll.”

Also starting in 2014, if you don’t have health insurance you will pay a penalty. That penalty will be whatever is greater — $95 or 1 percent of your income. But that penalty will rise in 2016 to $695 or 2.5 percent of your income.

You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy and Matt Brickman every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.


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