The Free Press, Mankato, MN

MN Health Care

June 10, 2013

Forum answers questions regarding Affordable Care Act

For people with high-risk health conditions and who find it difficult or impossible to get insurance via tradition means (such as an employer) the state has something called the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association.

With the Affordable Care looming and promising to change health care for millions of Americans, people who use the state's high-risk plan (referred to mostly as MCHA) are probably wondering how the change will affect them.

Turns out, it won't affect them much more than anyone else who plans to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act's new rules.

"Obamacare," as it's colloquially known, is coming. To plan for it, the state of Minnesota has put in place an online insurance shopping portal called MNsure, which is estimated to be used about 1.3 million Minnesotans.

People currently on MCHA will find that their coverage will be phased out, and they'll need to transition to MNsure. To best navigate that transition, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the government agency managing that transition, has been visiting cities around the state getting input from people who have been using MCHA insurance coverage.

One of those stops was at South Central College in North Mankato Monday. The crowd was sparse as Tim Vande Hey of the Department of Commerce fielded a few dozen questions from the roughly 20 people who attended.

Vande Hey's group has also been to Duluth and St. Cloud and they'll be in Rochester today. After that, they'll head to the Twin Cities for the final public input forums.

Audience questions ranged from navigating a transition from a COBRA insurance policy to the cost of the plans compared to the coverage they have now.

Vande Hey said that a few common themes have emerged in the feedback they've been getting since taking public comment about the transition.

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