Minn. officials visiting Germany to learn health insurance system

A delegation of Minnesota health care providers, academics, and government officials go to Berlin next week to learn about Germany's health insurance system.

The delegation will learn about that country's version of a key component of the U.S. health care reform law -- insurance exchanges.

Beginning in 2014, states will have to set up insurance exchanges. An exchange is a kind of online marketplace where consumers can compare and buy health plans. Germany already has a non-profit version of this.

"This really is about gathering information, seeing what might work, what would be opportunities and going from there," said Sabine Engel, who heads the University of Minnesota's Center for German and European Studies, which organized the trip.

Last week, Gov. Pawlenty passed up a million-dollar grant to study how Minnesota could create an exchange.

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