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As uncertainty surrounds Affordable Care Act, some hold off on MNsure

ST. PAUL -- Fallout from this month's election may be driving some Minnesotans to refrain from buying health insurance, MNsure leaders said Wednesday.

ST. PAUL - Fallout from this month’s election may be driving some Minnesotans to refrain from buying health insurance, MNsure leaders said Wednesday.

President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican majorities in Congress have promised major changes to the country’s health care law, though exactly what will be kept from the Affordable Care Act passed under President Barack Obama remains uncertain.

Meanwhile Republicans who have called to eliminate MNsure, Minnesota’s state-run health insurance exchange, have majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature.

Now that uncertainty is leading some people to hold off on buying health insurance.

“We have heard from assisters, just anecdotally across the state, that consumers are canceling their appointments because there is so much uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act,” said Allison O’Toole, MNsure’s CEO, at Wednesday’s MNsure board meeting.

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O’Toole said Minnesotans shouldn’t hesitate to buy insurance despite that uncertain future. The law requiring Americans to have health coverage will remain in effect, and insurance policies are “between a consumer and a carrier” that won’t be affected if MNsure goes away, O’Toole said.

“My message to them is, don’t give up,” O’Toole said.

Majority of enrollees new to MNsure The open enrollment period for the individual health insurance market began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 31, 2017.

In its first two weeks, 23,883 Minnesotans enrolled in health insurance through MNsure, plus an unknown number bought directly from health insurance carriers.

Around 60 percent of the customers so far are new to MNsure, while the rest are renewing existing MNsure plans.

In the first two weeks, 34.2 percent of enrollees bought plans from Medica, compared to 27.5 percent from UCare, 25.6 percent from HealthPartners and 12.8 percent from BluePlus.

These numbers are likely to change dramatically. Medica has already stopped selling new plans after hitting its enrollment cap, while HealthPartners and UCare have enrollment caps they’re likely to reach in coming weeks. Only BluePlus doesn’t have an enrollment cap.

In 2016, Medica had 21.3 percent of the market, compared with 23.8 percent for UCare and 26.6 percent for HealthPartners. BluePlus had 8 percent, while Blue Cross Blue Shield - which withdrew from the market this year - had 20.2 percent.

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The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

Related Topics: HEALTH
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