The Minnesota Health Insurance exchange – MNsure – is up and running. We learned recently that 12,011 people have created accounts on MNsure in its first two weeks of existence. Of that number, 5,569 have completed applications on the site and 3,769 have actually enrolled in health plans.
That number is sure to rise. The rollout had some initial problems with Internet access, but Minnesota’s exchange is performing much better than states that are relying on the federal exchange. I am optimistic that we will see further progress as more people sign up.
If you are having trouble with the website or just need some help in choosing a plan, the state has navigators to help you through the process. Navigators are people who help individuals and families successfully enroll in health plans through the MNsure marketplace. If you find yourself needing assistance, just call MNsure at 1-855-366-7873 or e-mail email@example.com.
Paying our schools back
The DFL budget that we passed this year made paying back the money that previous legislatures borrowed from our school kids a priority. To that end, I’m happy to report that Minnesota schools will soon receive an estimated $636 million.
That means that the Robbinsdale school district will receive a payment of $1,012,597 and the Hopkins school district $565,723.
Just two years ago our schools were owed over $2.8 billion and about $2.6 billion will now be repaid. With the accelerated school payback mandated by our budget, we will have repaid the school shift back to 90/10 level, leaving only about $240 million of the “property tax recognition shift” remaining.
Rather than wait until the new state revenue forecast is issued in December we prioritized paying back our schools sooner. The budget we passed will accelerate the repayment to make certain schools will receive dollars they are owed and deliver it sooner.
That time again
Every year starting on October 15, Medicare Open Enrollment provides an opportunity for Minnesota seniors to evaluate their coverage options. The Minnesota Department of Commerce reminds seniors that insurance policies can change and it is important to review any notices regarding changes from insurance companies.
Open Enrollment began on October 15 and ends on December 7, 2013. New coverage will begin on January 1, 2014.
To join in a new plan, seniors can either enroll through Medicare or call the new plan. Seniors do not need to do anything if they elect not to make any changes for the next coverage year.
To help Minnesota seniors make informed decisions regarding their Medicare options, the Commerce Department has the following tips and reminders for Medicare Open Enrollment:
MNsure, the new Health Insurance Marketplace
MNsure is for people who do not have health insurance already through a job or government program, like Medicare. This will not change any of the benefits or coverage for seniors on Medicare. The enrollment periods for MNsure and Medicare do overlap, so consumers should make certain that the health coverage options are Medicare plans and not through MNsure.
Be on the Lookout for Fraud and Scams
It is illegal to sell seniors a plan through MNsure if the agent or broker knows that their client currently has a Medicare plan. Since the enrollment periods overlap, this may invite fraudulent activity and seniors need to be aware of their rights.
Seniors need to protect themselves from fraud. Education and good help are the best defenses against being a victim – remember that your insurance agent or broker cannot imply that they are endorsed by Medicare, solicit door-to-door, contact you by phone or email (unless the consumer initiated the call), or attempt to sell non-health related products such as life insurance or annuities during educational open houses.
Selecting a Medicare Part D Plan
Medicare Part D is supplemental coverage offered by private insurance companies that helps pay for prescription costs. Shop around to see which plan is likely to save the most money. Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage.
Shop around for your Medigap Policy
Medicare Supplemental Insurance policies obtained through private insurance companies (also called Medigap) offer coverage and services that are not provided by Medicare and premiums can vary widely from company to company - be sure to compare plans and policies.
If you have any other questions about Medicare Open Enrollment, you can:
• Visit the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227)
• Call the Senior LinkAge Line at 800-333-2433 to select or enroll in a plan
• Get more information on special enrollment periods by going to the Medicare Website for Special Enrollment Periods. Open Enrollment for Medicare began on October 15 and ends on December 7, 2013.
Seniors can also visit the Commerce Department’s Medicare Toolkit for more information about Medicare Open Enrollment, insurance FAQs and tips for spotting and preventing fraud. Consumers should call the Department’s Consumer Response Team at 651-539-1600 or toll-free at 1-800-657-3602 (in Greater Minnesota) if you have any questions or concerns about your insurance agent or if you believe you have been a victim of a scam or fraud.
Ally my best,