Insurers submit plans to state to join MNSURE

Some Minnesota insurers say consumers on average will see higher health plan premiums but also more generous benefits for policies sold on the state's new online insurance marketplace.

Friday marked the deadline for insurers to submit their plans for state approval.

Minnetonka-based Medica has submitted plans to sell on MNSURE's individual and small group markets, said spokesman Geoff Bartsh, but he would not divulge how many plans it will offer or what the premiums will cost.

He said consumers will receive more generous benefits as required under the health care law and might find that their coverage is more expensive in the first year.

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"But after that period of time," Bartsh said, "we're getting to the desired impact whereby regardless of whether you're young and healthy or you're old or sick, everyone is contributing to a system that is hopefully providing better access, better benefits. It does come at a higher cost but there's also assistance for a great number of people to mitigate that impact."

The change in cost for buyers of individual, family and small group plans will depend on how much coverage people are buying now and whether they qualify for the health care law's tax subsidies, Bartsh said.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota said it also filed to have plans in the individual and small group markets on MNSURE. HealthPartners has filed plans only for the individual market.

The state will take at least two months to ensure the new plans meet regulations.

Minnesota residents will be able to see the plans when MNSURE goes live Oct. 1 and sign up for health coverage that takes effect in January 2014.

At least 1 million Minnesotans are projected to obtain health coverage through MNSURE.

As part of the federal health care law, states such as Minnesota that create their own marketplaces must also have people available to help consumers navigate the site. Groups that want to be considered as so-called consumers' assistance partners will have to submit letters of intent next month.