Newspaper article MinnPost.com

State Considers Release of Health-Insurance Rates for MNsure

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

State Considers Release of Health-Insurance Rates for MNsure

Article excerpt

Policymakers and state officials are looking at ways to shed some light on the rates consumers will pay on Minnesota's health- insurance exchange before more than a million Minnesotans are expected to begin enrolling in the complicated new health-reform program.

The state Commerce Department is examining ways to provide at least a summary of the rate information before October, the federally imposed deadline on the state to begin enrolling consumers in MNsure, the backbone of the federal health-care reform law here in Minnesota.

Agency officials maintain that state law is blocking the release of even an overview of the prices until October, when the exchange begins operating. Once the exchange is up and running, users will be able to see specific prices for individual plans and receive all the information necessary to make insurance purchases.

Lawmakers are fighting for consumers to know how much coverage will cost before enrollment begins to allow individuals and small business the opportunity to plan for life under the new program.

"The sooner that you can get concrete information ... out is going to allow people to actually make some decisions - as opposed to generalized information," said Brian Beutner, chairman of the MNsure board.

Tim Vande Hey, a deputy commissioner at the Commerce Department, addressed the issue at a MNsure board meeting on Wednesday. He said the department is working with the insurance carriers that plan to offer coverage on the exchange to see if they will release the information.

The department is also waiting for a legal opinion on whether it can release a rundown of the rates. Such a ruling could come in two weeks, but officials said that it appears the law won't allow for the information to be made public.

The law preventing the rates from being released was designed to prevent an individual insurance company from waiting to see the rates its competitors filed before finalizing its own prices. …

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