More MNsure options available in Rochester area

Residents of Olmsted and Dodge counties now have several new health insurance options on MNsure, the state's online health insurance marketplace.

Three weeks after announcing that Medica would offer seven new health insurance plans in the Rochester area, consumers can now compare the plans on the online marketplace.

"We were very thorough and careful to make sure everything we added would get up there properly and accurately and that the information would be correct," MNsure spokeswoman Jenni Bowring-McDonough said. "That was part of the reason it took a little bit of time."

Before the recent addition, the Rochester area had been the only part of Minnesota offering only one insurance option on MNsure, a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan.

Insurance companies have stayed out of the Rochester market largely because Mayo Clinic sets prices in the region, and they're higher than anywhere else in Minnesota. Mayo officials say their costs are expensive because the clinic treats patients with complex illnesses.

Medica's new insurance plans include treatment at Mayo Health Systems facilities but not Rochester's Mayo Clinic. Medica members who access care through Mayo Health System can be referred to Mayo Clinic without authorization from Medica. In that case, Mayo Clinic would be considered an in-network benefit.

State officials say no other new plans will be allowed into the marketplace for 2014, but other insurers may offer additional health plan options in 2015.

More than 1 million Minnesotans are expected to use MNsure to obtain health coverage starting next year when federal law requires most Americans to carry health insurance.

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