MNsure’s benefits lost in criticism

Focus on computer issues overshadowing positive aspects of new system


MNsure is taking a beating. Republicans are licking their chops over making its roll out a way to vote out Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

James Noble, the state’s legislative auditor, can’t wait to dig into the numbers to see if funds are being used correctly.

It’s time to remember that MNsure is only a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), which has been the law of the land since 2010.

To put this in perspective, 84 percent of U.S. citizens already have health insurance and are complying with the law.

So why are we so concerned about the Affordable Care Act? It is aimed to provide health insurance for 30 million uninsured citizens. The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation estimates 462,000 Minnesotans are uninsured.

MNsure’s health exchange is criticized because of computer problems with the rollout. Despite this, it’s estimated that 71,982 Minnesotans are in the process of enrolling in qualified health plans, MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance.

Since Minnesota has decided to expand Medicaid, it’s estimated that 67 percent of uninsured nonelderly people are eligible for coverage through Medicaid or the market places.

Meanwhile, the law already has many benefits.You can keep your youngsters on your health insurance until they are 26. Your health insurance company no longer can reject you or your children because you have a pre-existing condition. It no longer can cap your benefits.

Seniors should know that under this law, the donut hole is shrinking. Before the Affordable Care Act, seniors paid 25 percent of the Medicare costs, with Medicare paying 75 percent up to $2,800. Then, seniors had to pay 100 percent of health care expenses up to $6,400 and 5 percent after that, with Medicare paying 95 percent.

Under the new law, seniors got a $250 rebate in 2010 and a 50 percent drug company discount in 2011 and 2013. By 2020, seniors will pay 25 percent of their Medicare costs.

Under this law, more people are eligible for health care paid by Medicaid. Medicaid is made up of 57 percent federal and state funds to help poor people pay medical bills and live healthier lives. Much of it goes to care for the elderly.

Through Jan. 4, 28,401 additional Minnesotans who meet the less restrictive guidelines (133 percent of poverty level) had signed up for Medicaid.

Now, what about that health exchange?

Under the law, people have to be enrolled by March 31 or face a penalty of $95 for an individual or 1 percent of total income, whichever is greater. The penalty fee will increase in subsequent years.

People can sign up for private insurance, Medicaid and MinnesotaCare. So far 38 percent have signed up for private insurance. If you qualify, the federal government will help pay your insurance through tax credits.

So why is there so much criticism? Not surprisingly, the nature of the media and the Republican Party is to concentrate on the flaws. Those who are benefiting aren’t talking because their needs are being met.

Stay tuned.

  • KJeanMz

    Why don’t you discuss the asset recovery aspects of Medicaid for all the “elderly”? MNSure & the expansion of Medicaid will affect more people over 55 who lose their jobs during this recession, to lose their homes and other assets to pay for health insurance. While states like Oregon & Washington are limiting the asset recovery to the Federal mandated minimum (asset recovery for nursing care only)….. Minnesota is one of the most aggressive states for asset recovery of homes & other property. People work hard and save. Now with the long, deep recession, older people are finding themselves being laid off without promising prospects of finding good jobs, working lower paying jobs until they are 65. With a home paid off, some savings & 401K they are just making ends meet. Now comes Obamacare & Medicaid expansion to take it all away in exchange for “insurance” . Even if they never have a medical bill… they have to pay administration fees for Medicaid. And nobody in the Minnesota press seems questioned why the eliminated the asset test to qualify for Medicaid or Minnesotacare

    And what does Minnesota Statue 256L.03 Subd 6 mean the state has a lien against any person regardless of age for asset recovery???

    “When the state agency provides, pays for, or becomes liable for covered health services, the agency shall have a lien for the cost of the covered health services upon any and all causes of action accruing to the enrollee, or to the enrollee’s legal representatives, as a result of the occurrence that necessitated the payment for the covered health services. All liens under this section shall be subject to the provisions of section 256.015. For purposes of this subdivision, “state agency” includes participating entities, under contract with the commissioner according to section 256L.121.”

    I’ve called Mark Dayton’s office, my representatives, and MNSure about asset recovery… MNSure call center employees said Medicaid does not have asset recovery (they also explained the 73% cost sharing incorrectly). Governor Dayton and representatives don’t return calls or emails. This isn’t just a Democrat response… Michelle Bachman doesn’t return calls or emails either.
    I think Mark Dayton should start looking for a new job…. the people of Minnesota deserve someone who cares! especially during this recession when people are really struggling.