First months of enrollment outpace first three years of MNsure's small business exchange
ST. PAUL, MN—Less than one year after they were first authorized by the Minnesota Legislature, more than 1,700 Minnesotans are already taking advantage of new agriculture co-op health insurance options that are helping to lower costs and improve health care choices in rural communities. The Star Tribune reported this week that 40 Square cooperative saw more than 1,000 enrollments, with an additional 700 enrollments for a new agriculture co-op health plan offered by Land O'Lakes. The 1,700 signups in year one easily outpaced enrollment for the first three years of MNsure's now-defunct Small Business Health Options (SHOP) program, an exchange for Minnesota businesses with fewer than 50 employees1. The agriculture co-ops have no cost to taxpayers, while MNsure cost taxpayers more than $400 million to build and $45 million per year to operate.
"Agriculture co-ops are already helping hundreds of families in rural communities lower their health care costs and improve network access" said Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, who chief authored the agriculture co-op provision. The co-op language was included in the premium relief bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor that provided financial assistance to Minnesotans on the individual market while making key reforms to improve Minnesota's individual market. "Rural Minnesota has been hit especially hard by Obamacare, so it's encouraging to see Republican-led reforms already making a difference."
Expanding agriculture co-ops was just one of several major Republican-led reforms implemented during the 2017 legislative session. Others include:
- Ending the restriction on for-profit health carriers, which has already led to expanded options for seniors and employees.
- A nationally-recognized reinsurance program that helped reduce and stabilize premium rates for thousands of Minnesotans.
- A new law requiring health plans to offer access to at least two different provider systems, improving network access.
- Reducing barriers for small businesses to self-insure their employees.
- Consumer protections to end "surprise billing" by requiring disclosure of potential out-of-network charges prior to procedures.
"Republican-led reforms are helping to clean up the mess Democrats made of our health care system," added Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, co-chair of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee and chief author of the reinsurance bill. "We still have a lot of work to do, but it's clear that these reforms have put Minnesota on the right track and are lowering costs, improving access, and expanding choice for thousands of Minnesota families."
 MNsure SHOP Enrollment (reported and adjusted for 15% non-effectuation/cancellation):
April 2014: 875 (adjusted: 744)
February 2015: 1419 (adjusted: 1,206)
February 2016: 1,896 (adjusted: 1,611)