MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is ranked number one in a category it might not like — it has some of the highest health care insurance rate hikes in the country.

The state Commerce Department last week announced rate hikes between 14 and 49 percent for individuals buying insurance on MNsure. Now, the Kaiser Family Foundation says that’s the most of any state.

Dan McLaughlin, the Director of the Center for Health & Medical Affairs at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, says it’s all because last year’s rates were too low.

“It doesn’t really surprise me too much, because when we first started the health insurance exchanges we had the lowest rates in the country,” he said.

Minnesota went from lowest rates in 2015 to the highest in 2016, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Foundation also reports Minneapolis ranks number one among major cities — up 28.7 percent; ahead of Portland, Oregon at 22.8 percent and Burlington, Vermont at 7.3 percent.

That’s a big reason Minnesota Republican leaders are calling to abolish MNsure and go to the federal exchange: healthcare.gov.

“We call on Democrats to stop standing in the way of reforms that will save Minnesota families money,” Rep. Kurt Daudt, (R) Minnesota House Speaker, said.

McLaughlin says insurance companies miscalculated the high number of sick people with pre-existing conditions who would sign up, but he says Republican plans to abolish MNsure for healthcare.gov won’t lower a single monthly premium.

“Even though MNsure has had a few glitches, it fits very nicely into our health care system,” he said. “And if you go back to healthcare.gov you’ve got Uncle Sam looking over your shoulder all the time.”

Democratic proposals to investigate insurance company revenues and overhead will similarly not yield significant savings — only competition.

“That’s the beauty of capitalism,” he said. “You’ve got competition, and the health plans are competing with each other, and we’re coming up with a decent rate this year, which is kind of a startling increase for this year, but it will stabilize in the future.”

MNsure says even though Minnesota has some of the highest rate hikes in the country, many consumers — even most — will pay less because they are eligible for tax subsidies to lower their monthly premium.

Pat Kessler

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