By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One state lawmaker is calling the MNsure situation “serious as a heart attack” — literally.

Two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand Minnesotans who buy insurance on the open market and through MNsure are about to see their premiums skyrocket up to 67 percent.

Many are forced to switch policies, change doctors and pay higher deductibles.

“This is a very serious and urgent problem that needs to be fixed and we need to fix it right away,” said Mike Rothman, Minnesota’s commerce commissioner.

Rothman revealed Wednesday that the state’s independent insurance market is near collapse, calling it a “near-death experience.”

“I hope people will see the flashing red lights and hear the sirens because this is a real emergency situation,” Rothman said.

Health care companies say they are struggling with the high cost of medical care, and a new health care law which requires them to accept patients with pre-existing conditions.

GOP leaders hold press conference on MNsure (credit: CBS)

GOP leaders hold press conference on MNsure (credit: CBS)

Top Republicans say it is a crisis so big that the legislature needs to meet in special session to fix it.

“We cannot wait till January because we are going to have Minnesotans on Jan. 1 wake up with no health insurance coverage,” said Rep. Greg Davids.

Democrats say they are willing to discuss emergency reform, but worry that Republicans want to kill MNsure instead of fixing it.

“We also agree that we should sit down tomorrow and start trying to solve this. My question to Republicans is where have you been for two years?” said Rep. Paul Thissen, the DFL minority leader.

The skyrocketing insurance rates will not affect the 95 percent of Minnesotans who get insurance though their employers.

But it may affect the other 5 percent: 250,000 people who are self-employed, or who get their insurance through MNsure.

Commerce Commissioner Rothman is urging people to start shopping for insurance as soon as possible so they know what they might be facing before the Nov. 1 sign-up deadline.

It is also very important to check on the MNsure website to see if you qualify for a tax subsidy, which could dramatically reduce your monthly premium.

Pat Kessler