Interest in and questions about the massive Obamacare overhaul of the nation’s health insurance program were apparent Thursday night as about 250 people packed a conference center in North Mankato.
Local legislators Kathy Sheran, Kathy Brynaert and Clark Johnson hosted the town hall meeting at South Central College, reading an array of questions from audience members that were answered succinctly by MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov.
MNsure is the state health insurance exchange that will administer the Affordable Care Act that requires all people to have insurance or pay a penalty, with open enrollment in the insurance program starting Oct. 1.
Here are some of the questions and answers covered at the forum:
n What if I have health insurance coverage through my employer?
“People with coverage from larger employers or through Medicare are not affected,” Todd-Malmlov said. “If you are satisfied with what your employer is giving you, stick with it.”
Exceptions would be if a person is paying more than 9.5 percent of his or her personal income toward employer-sponsored insurance. Then, checking for MNsure insurance would make sense as tax credits to pay for coverage would be available.
n What about people on Medical Assistance?
They will automatically be transferred to MNsure.
n What if I have VA medical coverage?
Nothing will change for you.
n People who don’t buy insurance will be penalized. How much?
At first, an individual will pay just $95 or 1 percent of their income, which ever is greater, annually as a penalty for not carrying insurance. But the penalty rises, hitting $695 or 2.5 percent of income in 2016.
n Why not just not have insurance and then apply for MNsure if you get sick?
“If you get sick, you cannot just sign up,” Todd-Malmlov told the crowd. Open enrollment for MNsure will only be from October to December of each year.