Allison has been a health insurance broker for more than seven years specializing in individual and family plans.
As a 28-year-old, she understands the importance of having health insurance in case of a major accident or illness.
“Prior to October 1, I was concerned my health insurance cost would be increasing dramatically, but I was pleasantly surprised with the options available for my age group and my rate is actually less than I was paying in 2013,” said Allison.
Allison has worked with hundreds of clients over the past several months during MNsure open enrollment, helping them navigate their health insurance options and enroll in a plan for 2014.
“It’s great answering questions and assisting people choose and enroll in a health plan for 2014,” said Allison.
MNsure has thousands of certified brokers ready to help you find a plan. Their expertise comes at no additional cost to the consumer.
Erdenetsetsy is a 27-year-old student living in St. Paul. She says that for students, finding health insurance can be difficult.
For many years, Erdenetsetsy had been ignoring her health because of the expense of going to the doctor without health insurance. She had been experiencing some swelling in her face but hesitated having it looked at.
Erdenetsetsy attended a Southside Community Health Services enrollment event at St. Paul College where she learned she qualified for Medical Assistance. Feeling “awesome, happy and excited,” Erdenetsetsy’s wait to go to the doctor is now over.
Erdenetsetsy said having affordable access to health care will help her in the long run, keeping her healthy so she can become a contributing member of society.
Jennifer is a 25-year-old woman from Winona currently holding down two jobs, neither of which offers health insurance benefits.
“I signed up through MNsure during open enrollment and qualified for a low-cost plan,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer is thankful she took the steps necessary to obtain health insurance coverage because in mid-June, she started feeling pain in her abdomen. “I decided to go to the emergency room. I went through a CAT scan and had an ultrasound done, both of which are very expensive.”
The ER doctors were able to diagnose Jennifer with a burst ovarian cyst. Jennifer was hemorrhaging blood internally and needed further medical treatment.
“My bill would have been more than $15,000, but I’ll only have to pay a very low co-pay. I’m just really glad I had health insurance or otherwise I’d be even more in debt on top of my student loans.”
Because of MNsure, young people across Minnesota are able to easily obtain health insurance coverage, usually for less than the cost of their monthly cell phone bill. Unforeseen medical conditions can arise at any time. MNsure is able to help protect people like Jennifer from financial hardships due to medical situations.
In 2004, Linda started her own business. That meant leaving her former employer paid health insurance policy; however, she was able to purchase insurance through COBRA for the first 18 months. When that expired, Linda researched private health insurance plans and applied for individual insurance in 2007.
“Imagine my surprise when I was turned down!” said Linda. “I was told the reason was that I had lost weight. I was directed to apply to the state run high risk pool. Since I was nearing 50 years old at that point, my rates kept increasing pretty substantially.”
Last fall, Linda decided to check out MNsure. After applying for coverage through the online marketplace, Linda now has far better insurance coverage and a lower deductible, and her premiums were reduced by more than $200 a month.
“This is like a financial windfall for me. My costs per year went from over $9,000 to less than $6,000. That includes a $2,000 deductible,” said Linda. “In short, MNsure has been a blessing for me—I finally feel confident that I can continue my business because I know I can purchase insurance, rather than being at the whims of the private insurance industry. The anxiety and uncertainty around health insurance has been eliminated—and I am using my new benefits and they are great!”
Judy is an independent insurance agent in Woodbury who has helped many people navigate MNsure, leading them in the right direction to find a plan.
“I feel I have provided a valuable service as a certified MNsure agent,” said Judy. “It’s not about the money for me, it is about getting people quality health care at an affordable price.”
Many of Judy’s clients were previously denied health insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and were enrolled in the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Plan (MCHA) paying very high premiums. Judy was able to help these people pick a plan through MNsure at much lower premiums and better coverage.
“After years of asking for health information for underwriting, we can no longer do that,” said Judy. “I have had people so happy they cannot believe it after years of being denied coverage.”
More than 2,300 licensed insurance agents/brokers across Minnesota are certified to assist with MNsure enrollment. This assistance and expert insurance advice comes at no additional cost or increase in premium to the consumer.
At Open Cities Health Center (OCHC), navigators Pa, Christen and Glafira have one goal in mind: to improve the health of their community.
“We are the first point of contact with MNsure for most patients and many of our colleagues and supervisors, peers and friends,” said Glafira. “We stay up to date with all the news – from complications with the website to changes in the individual mandate – to ease our clients’ concerns and accurately discern rumors from reality. We assist with the MNsure application and provide follow up services in order to ensure that our clients get the health coverage they deserve.”
All three say working one-on-one with individuals and families to apply for health insurance is a rewarding experience. Minnesota has expanded both Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare and has some of the lowest QHP premiums in the country.
“Clients and navigators alike experience instant gratification because we find out immediately which programs clients qualify for,” said Glafira. “Seeing these same clients at OCHC weeks later for their first physical in 5 years, or a much needed mammogram, is thanks enough.”
All of the Navigators at Open Cities are between the ages of 22 and 28, and can relate to the trade-offs young people face in purchasing health insurance.
“Health insurance may not be a priority when you are paying off student loans or just making rent each month, but you will be surprised at some of the plans available to you at no or little cost. There is nothing to lose by applying, and a lifetime of health to gain.”
Vavalee is currently uninsured and does not speak English. Obtaining health insurance coverage has been challenging for her in the past due to that language barrier. Vavalee recently attended a MNsure enrollment event hosted by Hmong American Partnership, a MNsure grantee.
By working with a Navigator that spoke her language, Vavalee was able to complete the MNsure application and qualified for Medical Assistance.
“It gives me a peace of mind knowing that I have health care insurance and when I’m sick, I’ll not be afraid to go to the hospital. Without this coverage, it would cost me a lot,” Vavalee said.
More than 2,000 certified MNsure assisters are across Minnesota ready to help people enroll in qualify, affordable health insurance coverage. Many of these assisters work with specific populations, allowing them to meet the needs of all Minnesotans.
For years, Sinda has struggled to find affordable health insurance coverage due to a minor abnormality that showed up in one blood test but then did not show up in subsequent tests.
Although the test result was transitory, it led to Sinda being flagged for having a “pre-existing condition.” This made it difficult for her to find reasonable health insurance coverage even though she was young and healthy.
The only coverage Sinda was able to find was in a high-risk pool. It carried a monthly premium of $450 and a sky-high deductible. The policy was not sustainable and did not provide the coverage Sinda was looking for.
Through MNsure’s online marketplace, Sinda was able to find a plan with a $175 monthly premium and a deductible of just $1,000. The cost savings on her premium alone is $3,300 a year.
“I was blown away by the options on the MNsure website,” Sinda said. “They’re much better than what you could typically buy for yourself, and they’re a lot better than what I was getting from my employer.”
Through MNsure, young people like Sinda can find comprehensive coverage at an affordable price.
As a self-employed piano teacher, Mitch doesn’t have employer-provided health insurance and hadn’t thought much about coverage until it was time to purchase a policy.
When Mitch was 24 and still on his parents’ health insurance, he was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. At the time, he didn’t know what implications this would have for his eligibility for affordable health insurance later on. When he turned 26 and it came time to find his own health insurance, disappointment came when he received rejection letters citing pre-existing conditions. Mitch eventually enrolled in MCHA, paying a much higher premium than his peers and also receiving less valuable coverage.
Mitch checked out MNsure as soon as it opened, and was initially a little overwhelmed by all the options, but did end up finding a policy.
“I was thrilled to find that not only can I have a lower premium, but I also can cut my deductible in half and have five office visits with copays,” said Mitch. “This is the kind of value I wanted two years ago when the insurance companies rejected me. It feels great to find a policy I like and actually be allowed to enroll in it.”
As a young professional on a budget, Miranda often researches products before purchasing and shops around to get the best value for her money. Little did she know she would be able to do that with her health insurance.
“I really didn’t think I was going to get better coverage at a lower premium, but there were several options out there,” said Miranda.
Miranda is an account manager at a large consulting firm and is offered insurance through her employer. When MNsure open enrollment began, she decided to check it out, just to compare her employer costs and coverage with what was offered on the marketplace.
“I quickly realized that the premiums through my employer were pretty high and the coverage was not that great compared to what was being offered on MNsure.”
Because Miranda is offered insurance through her employer she is not eligible for tax credits or subsidies. However, she was able to purchase a platinum plan with a low deductible and will save about $1,250 a year in premiums and more than $1,000 a year in out of pocket costs.
“I encourage my friends, family, everyone I talk to that they should go check it out.” She believes knowledge is power, and that it’s important for people to know what their options are.
Premiums on MNsure are the lowest in the nation. Young people in Minnesota can now find health coverage at a price that fits their budget.
Karla currently holds a COBRA policy with her former employer. The policy costs her $580/month and is scheduled to expire in March.
Anticipating the end of her COBRA coverage, Karla began contacting insurance companies a couple months ago to compare plans and costs. Little did she know that her pre-existing conditions made her uninsurable.
“I consider myself a healthy person,” said Karla. “They said I was uninsurable because I’m on too many medications.”
Karla now considers the denial a blessing, because through MNsure, she will be able to purchase a comparable health insurance policy for $178/month, thanks to an advanced premium tax credit only available on MNsure. The difference in cost will save Karla more than $400 each month.
“I am going to save a lot of money. It was really good timing for me because when COBRA runs out I would basically be uninsurable.”
Starting in 2014, people like Karla cannot be turned down or charged more for pre-existing conditions. Advanced premium tax credits are only available through MNsure.
Mary discovered that she had a rare and serious medical condition in February of 2011, which required surgery and regular monitoring.
Subsequent related medical issues made continuing her career as a lawyer impossible. Her family’s health coverage at the time was a high-premium, high-deductible plan, and the regular doctor visits her treatment required meant the copays added up quickly. Earlier this year, Mary was told that her condition had recurred, and she is facing another surgery and follow-up MRIs twice a year.
Mary visited MNsure.org as soon as the site was live to explore her options. She enrolled in a plan that covers 100 percent of office visits, testing, surgeries, hospital stays, prescriptions and more—and that will save her family nearly $10,000 next year.
Julie is a self-employed massage therapist in Harmony and has been paying for health insurance completely out-of-pocket for years.
Twenty-three years ago Julie lost her husband to cancer. She was left to raise two young children on her own. With one of her children suffering from a severe physical disability, going without health insurance was not an option. “My monthly insurance payment is more than my mortgage payment,” Julie explains. “I could find cheaper plans but my deductible would skyrocket and my coverage would suffer.”
Julie is anticipating that through MNsure, she will find a health insurance policy that is affordable and gives her the coverage she needs. By using the MNsure cost calculator, it appears that savings are coming her way. “This is going to put hundreds of dollars back in my pocket each month,” says an excited Julie.
MNsure is the place for Julie to find coverage that will fit her budget needs.