ST. PAUL — Minnesotans who need to buy an individual insurance plan on the state’s MNsure exchange will have fewer days to sign up this year.
MNsure announced Wednesday, Sept. 4, the 2020 open enrollment period when customers can sign up will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 23, 2019. That’s about 20 fewer days than customers had during last year’s sign-up period.
Minnesotans still have a week more than customers in other states who rely on the federal health insurance exchange and must sign up by Dec. 15. In past years, Minnesotans could pick in late December and early January, but their insurance coverage didn’t take effect until Feb. 1.
“It’s important to be covered all twelve months of the year,” MNsure CEO Nate Clark said in a statement announcing the enrollment period. “We’re here to help make sure consumers are able to choose a plan and enroll by the Dec. 23 deadline so they can start using their coverage right away in the New Year.”
About 135,000 Minnesotans purchase individual health insurance on MNsure, which is the state’s marketplace for plans under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. That market has been cut roughly in half since MNsure was created as more people get covered by an employer plan, qualify for public programs or are priced out of the individual market.
MNsure enrollments have remained steady the past few years after past fluctuations.
MNsure rates are expected to increase modestly, or in the case of one provider decline, for the third year in a row. Skyrocketing premium hikes threatened the stability of the state’s individual insurance market in the years after MNsure’s launch.
Republicans credit a reinsurance program they championed for holding rates down. The program uses $541 million in taxpayer money to help insurers cover the costs of their sickest customers.
Democrats have pushed to expand MinnesotaCare, the state’s insurance for the working poor, to help more people afford health care. They argue the state’s negotiating power will result in lower rates.
MNsure customers can shop for insurance on the agency’s website, mnsure.org, over the phone or with one of 1,600 assisters available throughout the state. Customers can start comparing plans about two weeks before the Nov. 1 start of the open enrollment period.
The state’s health insurance exchange is the only place customers can get tax credits for individual plans. Last year, more than half of enrollees qualified for a tax break, which on average was worth $5,500 a year per household, for a total of $224 million statewide.