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Minnesota Says Its Marketpace Rates Are Nation’s Lowest So Far

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota consumers will be able to buy a health plan for as little as $90.59 per month on MNsure, the new state health insurance marketplace, state Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said Friday.

Rothman said Minnesota has the lowest average rates for individuals and families compared to the other states that have revealed the costs of their plans thus far (that includes 13 states and the District of Columbia, according to a Kaiser Health News running tally).

Data released Friday offered a first look at the new health insurance plans and rates that will be sold on MNsure. More than 1 million Minnesotans are expected to use the marketplace to obtain health coverage when it goes live on Oct. 1, offering coverage that takes effect at the start of next year.

A family of four earning as much as $31,322 a year would be eligible for free Medicaid health insurance across Minnesota.

A total of 141 individual / family and business plans are expected to be offered from five companies – Blue Cross Blue Shield, HealthPartners, Medica, PreferredOne and UCare, MnSure said. Rothman said all Minnesota counties will be served by at least two insurers. The state also posted a list of MNsure provider networks.

The plans are categorized by “metal level” — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — based on the portion of a person’s health costs the plan will pay for. The lowest-cost $90.59 policy is based on a 25-year-old, non-smoker living in the Twin Cities who selects a “bronze” plan, the department said. The highest rate listed was $407.51 per month for a 60-year-old non-smoker in the Twin Cities enrolling in a “platinum plan.”

The rates unveiled Friday don’t include any financial aid or subsidies that might be available to some consumers. It also wasn’t immediately clear what the rates would be for Minnesotans who smoke.

For small group coverage, the sticker prices (not including a small business tax credit) for MNsure monthly plan costs range from $1,127 for a small business with five workers and a $20,000 average gross income to $1,986 for the top plan with five employees earning $50,000 or more.

Officials did not have data comparing policies and prices available to Minnesota consumers now compared to what would be offered for 2014 coverage in the MNsure marketplace.

Asked repeatedly if consumers would be saving money in the MNsure marketplace, Rothman said most individuals and families “will be able to find a product that is competitive” and for “many, many it will be less” even before any subsidies. The MNsure premiums and marketplace drew criticism from Republicans Friday.

State Rep. Joe Hoppe criticized the amount of taxpayer money that has been spent to date to set up the exchange and said the rates released Friday are higher than those on the individual market now. “How does making health insurance more expensive encourage more people to get insured?” Hoppe said.

This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes MPR News, NPR and Kaiser Health News.