My husband and I retired early, after many years in the workplace. We did not work for large companies that allowed you to carry the company-provided insurance forward into retirement. As two healthy individuals, we did not think there would be any issues buying insurance on the open market.
We were wrong. Imagine my surprise when a well-known carrier, rejected my husband's application because he had an MRI on his back three years prior to the application! We were panicked. If this carrier would not accept him, who would?
Eventually, we got him covered, but if he would have had a back issue it would not have been covered. Thank heavens one year later, the ACA came in and we could apply through MNsure. No applications for acceptance, just an application that would allow us some tax credits according to our income level, a fair way to cover some of the cost.
Today, without the ACA and MNsure, I am sure my monthly payment would sky rocket as I am in an older age group. Being able to compare plans allowed us to choose just the right one, and keep our doctors and clinics.
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 among the lowest in the nation. Young people in Minnesota can now find health coverage at a price that fits their budget.
Barkhad and Faysal's Story
Barkhad Abdi and Faysal Ahmed, stars of Captain Phillips, explain the importance of health insurance and the benefits of MNsure.
Thirty-one-year-old Jamison is following his dream by switching careers.
"I left my job to go back to law school," said Jamison.
What Jamison didn't think about was leaving that job also meant leaving his health insurance coverage.
"I was getting employer-provided health care and never even really thought about the benefit to employer-sponsored health insurance."
Jamison purchased insurance on the open market after leaving his job, but increased premiums for 2014 prompted him to check out MNsure when open enrollment began in the fall of 2013. He was able to easily compare plans and find one that fit his needs. Jamison found a platinum level plan with a $1,000 deductible for $174/month, saving him $35/month in premiums over his old plan. Jamison was also able to find coverage for his infant son through Medical Assistance, bringing him quality coverage at no cost.
"Overall the experience has been really good," said Jamison.
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.
Alex spent New Year's Eve of 2009 in a doctor's office. He knew that the very next day, when the calendar turned over to 2010, he would lose the health coverage he had through his mother's insurance. He was desperate to receive a steroid shot to manage reoccurring joint pain while he still had coverage. "The inflammation in my finger had gotten so bad I couldn't move it and it swelled up to twice its size," Alex recalls. "It would wake me up in the middle of the night."
Alex was experiencing his first flare-up of psoriatic arthritis, a painful illness that would go undiagnosed for several more years. Between school, part-time work, and his mom's plan, he only had intermittent insurance coverage. This allowed for brief visits with many different doctors, but not the consistent, specialized care he needed to figure out his illness.
Alex dreamed of being a teacher, but leaving his part-time job at Starbucks meant losing health coverage. "It became a catch-22 because it was really hard to make the 20 hours a week at Starbucks to qualify for insurance. It was harder and harder to do 8 hour shifts. I would finish unable to walk."
In those years, it was hard for Alex's friends to understand what he was going through. "Some people think it's a choice to not have insurance. For me, I was desperate to get insurance."
Eventually, Alex saw a rheumatologist who diagnosed his condition and prescribed medication. It was a relief to identify the problem at last. However, when he left Starbucks to pursue a career in education, his application for insurance was denied because of his pre-existing condition.
Fortunately, it was only a few months wait until MNsure and the Affordable Care Act went into practice. Alex and his wife enrolled immediately in a plan that only costs $80 a month.
"It is the best insurance I've ever had," Alex says. "For the first time in my adult life, I have a normal doctor. Before, I thought about my arthritis every single day. I was in constant fear - am I not going to be able to work tomorrow? Where will I get money? Now I address flare-ups before they become really big problems."
With a history of health problems in her family, Lin knew she needed to get health insurance coverage.
"I recently started a new job and am not eligible for health insurance benefits through my employer."
Realizing that the MNsure open enrollment deadline was coming to an end, Lin decided to check out MNsure.org, but ended up having some questions.
"I gave MNsure a call and they put me in touch with a certified navigator."
After setting up the appointment, Lin couldn't believe how easy it was to get health insurance coverage at a price she could afford.
"It was so, so smooth. The whole thing was a great experience. We walked through the application and when I left the appointment I knew I was going to be covered."
Better yet, Lin didn't have to pay for this service, available only through MNsure.
"When we were wrapping up I said, 'What do I owe you?' and the navigator said, "You don't pay me anything.' I couldn't believe it."
Thanks to MNsure, thousands of Minnesotans are getting high quality, affordable health insurance coverage, with the added benefit of free, in-person enrollment assistance.
"I've told my friends, family, everyone I know about this experience. Anyone who is currently uninsured needs to call MNsure and get themselves covered."
Sarah was born in Chickankata, Zambia, as an American born abroad. Sarah has lived in the U.S. since she was three-years-old and grew up mostly in Texas.
After attending both undergrad and graduate school in Minnesota, Sarah founded the MN Second Chance Coalition and then took a job as chief operating officer of a large non-profit that worked with juvenile and adult offenders and lobbied for the MN Second Chance Coalition.
In 2011, after two years of repeated bouts of pneumonia, bronchitis and strep, feeling lethargic and being in constant arthritic pain, Sarah was diagnosed with lupus.
"As a result of my lupus I need monthly infusions, take many prescription medications including anti-organ rejection medication and have numerous orthopedic needs. Without these medical interventions I enter into a cycle of continuous illness and pain."
When MNsure launched, Sarah was able to make a career transition, because she was no longer forced to stay on an employer-sponsored plan due to pre-existing conditions.
"MNsure has allowed me the freedom and security to pursue my personal/professional goals and to travel with security."
Leah worked with MNsure-certified assisters to find an alternative to COBRA, saving her family of four $428 every month.
Roger and Judy's Story
As farmers in rural Houston County, Roger and Judy have always purchased their own health insurance coverage because employer-sponsored coverage was not an option.
"Last year we paid $1,400 per month for health insurance," said Judy.
When news about MNsure and the cost savings many people experienced starting running across the state, Roger and Judy decided to check it out to see if they would be able to save some money as well. They attended an enrollment event held by a local navigator in their county.
After applying through MNsure, Roger and Judy found out they qualified for MinnesotaCare, and their monthly insurance costs were going down.
"With MinnesotaCare, we're going to pay just $1,400 per year for health insurance!" said Judy. "Our deductible will also go down by $5,000."
Navigator Mohamed works to change lives, improve lives of those in his Somali community.
After being uninsured for more than a year, Derrick's boss sat him down in front of a computer and told him about MNsure. Forty-five minutes later, Derrick was insured.
Before enrolling in MNsure, Roberta and her husband Ken went without health insurance for nearly six years.
"Our premiums were rising so much as to be unaffordable, especially since I had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes."
Their situation was made more complicated by the fact that they are both freelance artists and their income can vary from month to month, year to year. Using the assistance and expertise of a MNsure navigator, they enrolled in a plan that fit their needs.
"I am getting the maintenance care I need to combat my condition and Ken is getting his long-overdue checkups. I feel more at ease these days knowing we have competent, caring health care providers guiding us to better health."
My MNsure experience has been great. I really appreciate the opportunity to purchase very good health care coverage at an affordable cost.
- Brian A., Aitkin
Ken and his wife Zion are able to realize their dreams of becoming small business owners thanks to affordable health care through MNsure.
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.
MNsure navigator Emmy helps Minnesotans in the Spanish-speaking community enroll in health insurance coverage through MNsure.
For the first time in 20 years, I have decent health care thanks to MNsure.
As someone with a common pre-existing condition, I feel so fortunate to have affordable health care and to be able to do things like bike to my asthma doctor.
- Annie M., St. Paul
Pharmacist Alaina says MNsure lets people get what they want out of health care.
Becky and Mike's Story
Small business owners Becky and Mike used MNsure to find insurance plans.
Bill had been denied coverage after losing his employer-provided health insurance.
Jacek and Gabi's Story
For Jacek and Gabi, health insurance is part of overall wellness, and they're saving $800/month through MNsure.
Jake is a small business owner and father in Glenwood. He and his family decided to get health insurance coverage through MNsure, and are glad they made that decision.
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.
MNsure has certified brokers across the state ready to help you find a plan. Their expertise comes at no additional cost to the consumer.
Jenny enrolled her boys in coverage through MNsure right before cancer diagnosis.
Leslie and her husband are self-employed farmers in Todd County without access to employer-sponsored health insurance. With a young child in the family, they know good coverage is important.
"We had a private insurance plan which was $280 a month and going to go up to $400 a month in 2014," said Leslie.
Leslie decided to check out MNsure to see if she could save some money. After filling out the online application, Leslie and her family learned they qualified for Medical Assistance, providing high quality coverage at no cost.
Mary discovered that she had a rare medical condition requiring surgery and regular monitoring. Mary went to MNsure.org and enrolled in a plan that saved her family nearly $10,000, and covered 100 percent of office visits, testing, surgeries, hospital stays, prescriptions and more.
Paul is a small business owner and father of three children. When Paul's job was eliminated, it left him and his family with decisions to make about their health insurance coverage.
Accidents happen. Make sure you're covered for when they do.
Richard is a fifth-generation farmer in rural western Minnesota. Richard enrolled in health insurance coverage through MNsure, and says it has made a huge difference in how he controls his health care.
[The assister] was able to explain everything at a level that I could understand.
Without her help and patience, I would still be with out a plan.
- Scott B., Lakeville
Shari works part time and therefore doesn’t qualify for employer-sponsored health insurance. Shari attended an enrollment event at the Staples Library to learn about her options through MNsure.
“Previously, I thought I would have to pay at least $250 a month for Insurance. I did not think I would qualify for assistance,” said Shari.
Due to changes in eligibility brought on by the Affordable Care Act, Shari learned she qualified for MinnesotaCare through MNsure.
“I am relieved that I found out I qualify and that I have my insurance so I won't be penalized,” said Shari.
Minnesotans that may have previously been denied coverage like MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance may now qualify due to changes in eligibility rules. Check MNsure.org today to apply and see if you qualify.
Vavalee was uninsured and does not speak English. Obtaining health insurance coverage has been challenging for her in the past due to that language barrier. Vavalee 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.
Trish used to buy her insurance directly from an insurance company, but when she found out that premiums were going up, she decided it was time to shop around on MNsure to find a plan that worked for her and her daughter.
As a navigator at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Grand Marais, Minnesota, Rachelle helps people get insurance coverage and financial assistance.
Bao lives in St. Paul. She and her family had been without health insurance coverage for a number of years because it is not offered as a benefit at her place of employment. Previous attempts to apply for coverage had left Bao denied due to pre-existing conditions and other health factors. Bao recently had minor eye surgery and left here with a bill of more than $3,000 for the procedure, a financial burden that was difficult for her family.
Bao came to a MNsure enrollment event at Hmong American Partnership to complete her application. Now, everyone in her family has health insurance coverage through Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare. Bao is very happy with the outcome.
"I'm not afraid to go the hospital anymore when I get sick," said Bao.
Thanks to MNsure, thousands of Minnesotans that were not able to purchase health insurance because of a pre-existing condition can now find comprehensive, affordable coverage.