MNsure officials are reminding Minnesotans experiencing sticker shock as they shop the health insurance exchange to check if they qualify for tax credits, which are increasing threefold for 2017 enrollment.
 
The larger subsidy reflects the significant jump in premium costs for next year—up 59 percent to $340 per month on an individual silver plan. The state had the fourth-highest average premium increase according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
 
TCB examined MNsure’s performance in its September 2016 issue.
 
In the first four weeks of open enrollment for 2017, 57 percent of the approximately 30,000 enrollees qualified for a subsidy. The average subsidy offered is $637—triple last year’s average subsidy of $210.
 
“Premiums are higher, but so are tax credits available through MNsure, so Minnesotans need to shop to see if they can find affordable health coverage,” MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole said in a statement. “For many of our customers, we’re seeing that the amount of their tax credit is significantly or completely offsetting the amount of their premium increase.”
 
Tax-credit subsidies are based on income. To qualify, a single Minnesotan must earn less than $47,520 per year. A family of four can earn up to $97,200.
 
The insurance exchange has been a flashpoint between the state’s GOP and DFLers. Squabbling has ensued since premium estimates were rolled out in October, reaching its peak when Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt said he’d call on Dayton to resign if the problem wasn’t quickly fixed. Democrats proposed using $300 million of the stimulus to help reduce the cost of MNsure plans for individuals and families that don’t qualify for subsidies. Republicans didn’t take up the offer and deftly used the premium increases as a election issue. They maintained their hold of the House and won back the majority in the Senate.
 
MNsure said the state’s uninsured rate was 4 percent as of February 2016—the lowest in state history. Open enrollment for health insurance ends January 31, 2017.

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