By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is days away from launching its new health insurance program as Minnesotans will pay the lowest average monthly premiums in the country.

That’s according to new numbers from the Obama administration made public on Wednesday.

Minnesota’s average monthly premium will be $144 for the least expensive plan.

That’s about half of the average premium in Wisconsin and other neighboring states.

More than a million Minnesotans could sign up for health insurance online. And they’ll have hundreds of choices.

It sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be: here are a few tips on what to watch for.

You can already navigate the MNsure website to get a feel for what the marketplace will look like.

You’ll see five different Minnesota insurance companies with health plans, including Preferred One.

Steve Peterson walks you through the need-to-know stuff.

Like: what’s it cost?

MNsure has three levels of coverage: the lowest cost is Bronze, then Silver and high-end Platinum.

The less you pay, the fewer benefits you get.

Do the math: You can raise or lower your monthly bill by changing deductibles and co-pays.

“Be a shopper,” he said. “And kind of look and compare. Look at the different options in the different plans and find out what is best for you.”

The new health care law already requires basic coverage, like free check-ups and immunizations.

But check to see if the policy you buy has other benefits.

“You could have dental and eyeglass coverage included in the medical plan,” he said.

When you pick your plan, ask yourself, “Can I keep my doctor?”

Some plans will let you do that, some won’t.

“That means looking to see if you have a doctor relationship, or maybe there’s a clinic close to your work or home that you understand that clinic is inside the network,” he said.

You can start buying insurance coverage on Oct. 1, but you can already go online and check out the difference insurance plans.

Pat Kessler

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