Clock ticks down to start of MNsure exchange

Tony Lourey, Joe Atkins
Sen. Tony Lourey, D-Kerrick, left, looks on as Rep. Joe Atkins, D-Inver Grove Heights, holds an iPad to stress that Minnesotans will be able to go online for the state's health insurance exchange which is is projected to serve one out of every five Minnesotans. The two lawmakers were joined by Republican lawmakers to unveil bipartisan legislation to establish the exchange, all part of the Affordable Care Act, during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP Photo/Jim Mone

The state health-insurance exchange known as MNsure is getting ready to begin operating on its mandated launch date of Oct. 1. On the way to meeting that date, MNsure staff have asked the federal government for $40 million more, on top of the $110 million the program has already received in federal funds.

Minnesota is one of 17 states that have proceeded with plans to set up their own exchanges. Seven others have decided to establish exchanges in partnership with the federal government, but the majority — 27 states — have chosen not to act, meaning that the federal government will operate exchanges for them. (The numbers add up to more than 50 because the District of Columbia is counted among the states setting up exchanges.)

Open enrollment for Minnesotans wishing to buy insurance through MNsure will begin Oct. 1. Coverage under the system is expected to begin Jan. 1.

The Daily Circuit checks in with two close observers of the Minnesota effort to see how it is shaping up and how it compares with exchanges in other states.

LEARN MORE ABOUT INSURANCE EXCHANGES:

Exchange presents technical challenges on tight deadline
Thus far, the state is hitting the required milestones to prove that the exchange, called MNsure, will be ready for open enrollment in October. But in one indication of the challenge at hand, officials for the first time are dialing back expectations for what to expect out of the gate. (Star Tribune)

MNsure buyers could get early look at rates
People interested in buying health insurance through the state's new online marketplace, MNsure, may get an early look at premium rates, according to a Minnesota Department of Commerce official. ... "The Department of Commerce is working actively with [health insurers] to try to come to a resolution that would not only allow us to provide rate information prior to October 1, but would also be accurate and approved rate information," said Tim Vande Hey, deputy commissioner of the department's insurance division at a meeting of the MNsure board Wednesday. (MPR News)

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