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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Cost containment, expanded access and other changes to individual health insurance

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


To the editor,

Open enrollment is soon beginning for people who purchase their health insurance on the individual market – not through an employer – and I continue to field numerous questions regarding what has changed in the last year.

Let’s take a few minutes to get up to speed.

First of all, the Legislature was successful during the 2017 session by reducing costs and expanding access for Minnesotans. The Minnesota Department of Commerce indicated rates would have risen by 20 percent or higher without reforms we achieved. Instead, we have reversed the four straight years of double-digit premium increases and helped expand health care choices throughout our state, particularly in Greater Minnesota.

Numerous reforms have been enacted and we recently received word the governor has signed the paperwork necessary to ensure our state will receive federal funding for the Minnesota Premium Security Plan, aka “reinsurance.” Some reforms we achieved will give small businesses more affordable health insurance options for their employees.

All current insurers will continue serving the individual market next year. Unlike last year, this year every county will have at least one uncapped broad access plan. Additionally, every insurer is now required to offer at least one plan per area, with access to two or more provider systems.

Meeker County residents will have access to the Applause product, which is Medica’s broad access plan. Medica does not have an enrollment cap in 2018, so Meeker residents will be assured access to Medica throughout open enrollment and 2018. Plan options in the other counties comprising District 18A include:

  • McLeod: Blue Plus, Medica
  • Wright: Blue Plus, Group Health, PreferredOne, UCare, Medica

The deadline to enroll is Jan. 14, but it is best to get coverage before Dec. 15 to ensure there is no lapse.

Other changes will make it easier for farmers and other people in the ag. industry to buy better health coverage. A new 40 Square health care cooperative program for the ag sector will be very beneficial to parts of the state such as ours. This co-op program will make six health plans available to ag. workers. Co-op participants can obtain health plans that are self-funded through a member-owned, member-governed system. This is designed to foster transparency and empower Minnesota farm families.

Meetings are being scheduled throughout the state this fall to provide people with more information on 40 Square. The website has details on the meetings and more – including a Dec. 15 enrollment deadline.

As I continue to say, the improvements we made this year are not cure-alls for our ailing health care system. This year’s achievements do, however, get us pointed in the right direction as we continue working toward permanent solutions amid federal uncertainty.


Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township