The first HMO to enter the Minnesota market since 1998 will offer health coverage in four southeastern counties.
The Minnesota Department of Health certified Wisconsin-based Gunderson Lutheran Health Plan to operate in Fillmore, Houston, Olmsted and Winona counties.
Minnesota's Department of Commerce must review and approve Gunderson's insurance rates before it can begin offering its plan in Minnesota, said Gary Lenth, medical director for Gunderson. He expects that will happen by spring.
"We think that there will be certainly interest among patients and among employers in that area to consider the possibility of Gunderson Lutheran Health Plan as their insurance product since our parent organization, our health system, is fairly active in that service area," Lenth said.
Lenth says Gundersen Lutheran Health Plan started in 1995 as a way for the Gundersen Lutheran Health System to finance its own employees' health care. It claims more than 90,000 members and has expanded to provide benefit plans for other area businesses in Wisconsin and Iowa.
"It extends beyond insurance for just our Gunderson Lutheran employees and it'll be available really to any employer who has health insurance and wants to consider us as the health insurer for their employees," Lenth said.