The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 2, 2013

Blue Earth County to hire staff to handle Obamacare changes

MANKATO — It’s still eight months before coverage will kick in under the Affordable Care Act and five months before people can begin picking their health care plan on Minnesota’s new insurance exchange, but Blue Earth County officials expect crunch time to begin as soon as next month.

County Human Services Director Phil Claussen and Assistant Director Angela Youngerberg are planning to add three full-time staff to help deal with an anticipated flood of questions and applications for the new insurance program, commonly called Obamacare.

The questions are expected next month because that’s when state health care officials are planning a major media blitz to get people thinking about the massive reform of America’s medical insurance system. Everything from TV ads to billboards to social media to town hall meetings are planned.

“What’s going to happen at that point is we’re going to start getting a lot of phone calls,” said Youngerberg, predicting current Medical Assistance recipients and MinnesotaCare enrollees will be concerned and confused about whether their coverage is threatened.

Claussen said he wants his office staffed well enough to get people the answers they need.

“We don’t want to breed more confusion because there will be confusion already,” he said.

Americans who work for large companies and get insurance through their jobs might not see much change under Obamacare. Other middle-class Americans without job-related insurance benefits will be able to pick from among private insurance policies offered through an online insurance exchange with government subsidies helping cover the cost of premiums depending on a person’s income level.

People will be able to begin using the exchange, called MNsure in this state, to pick the policy that’s best for them starting in October. Benefits will kick in Jan. 1. Eventually, nearly 30 million uninsured Americans are expected to receive coverage under the reform.

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