MNsure rates going up, but some could pay less

Individual health insurance rates on MNsure will increase 14.2 percent to 49 percent in 2016, according to the new rates announced Thursday by the Department of Commerce.

“I think that the rates are unacceptably high,” Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said.

Rate increases

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota: + 49 percent
Blue Plus: +45 percent
Group Health: + 31 percent
HealthPartners: +32 percent
Medica of Wisconsin: +14 percent
Medica Insurance Company: +16 percent
PreferredOne: +39 percent
UCare: +27 percent.

How some people will actually pay less

But it’s a double-edged sword, because federal credits are also increasing. That means some people will be able to find similar health plans for less money than they paid last year.

For example, a 25-year-old man from St. Paul could sign up for a Bronze plan and his premium will go up $30 next year. But his tax credit also rises to $59, meaning his monthly premium will actually drop by $9 compared to 2015.

Open enrollment begins Nov. 1

Every case will be different, which is why MNsure leaders are pleading with customers to shop on when open enrollment begins Nov. 1.

“In light of today’s news, I encourage Minnesotans to come to MNsure and shop and compare plans,” MNsure interim executive director Allison O’Toole said. “For those who don’t, you’re potentially leaving money on the table.” 

Republicans declare MNsure a failure

“We have called on the Democrats this last session to reform MNsure and to move to the federal exchange,” House Speaker Kurt Daudt said. “I’ll renew that call to Democrats to stop standing in the way of reform that will save Minnesota families money.”

Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is already calling for reforms of his own. He wants a re-insurance program to stabilize the individual market against big losses, and also a cap on insurance reserve funds. He would also like to combine the individual and group markets to spread out the risk. All of these proposals would need legislative approval.

Governor 'extremely unhappy'

“I am extremely unhappy with these extremely high insurance rate increases. The insurance companies, who are responsible for them, will force Minnesotans into plans with less complete coverage or drive them out of the insurance market entirely," Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement. "Given these large rate increases, I strongly encourage Minnesotans to shop on MNsure so they can access tax credits to help reduce their costs. If health insurance companies make good coverage unaffordable for Americans, I believe citizens will soon demand that insurers’ excessive administrative overheads be eliminated, and that they be removed as the providers of health insurance.”