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Wiger: Health Insurance Exchange a Benefit to Minnesotans

What do you think about a Minnesota health care exchange?

After years of discussion between legislators, consumers, businesses and Minnesota’s health care community, legislation to create a Minnesota health care exchange is officially in full swing. 

The Affordable Care Act directs states to create an exchange that will be accessible by individuals, families and small businesses. Each state is given the opportunity to create an exchange on their own. However, if a state fails to create an exchange, all enrollees will automatically be put into the federal exchange January 1, 2014.

Recently in the Finance Committee, I was able to hear testimony about the bill. I think it is important Minnesota creates its own exchange instead of using the federal exchange. Creating a Minnesota-based model is more cost-efficient than participating in the federal exchange for the state, the consumers and the insurance companies. We know what works for Minnesota and we have a history of taking care of our uninsured. We should continue to put Minnesota policies forward.  

As a national leader in health care, Minnesota already has data on cost, quality and providers. The federal government does not have this data and they will not have it for their exchange. What this means for the average consumer is that a Minnesota exchange will contain provider quality ratings (which doctors are best for diabetes, asthma, etc) and provider network information (people want to know which doctors they are going to be able to see).  

The essence of the Exchange is to create an environment where individuals have the capability to find and purchase affordable health care coverage. According to an analysis done on the implementation of the exchange in Minnesota, approximately 70 percent of the individual market will experience either no change or premium decreases.  

The state-based exchange will create an online marketplace where an applicant will be able to find health care coverage for their income and coverage needs by making an apples-to-apples comparison of different plans. The exchange will serve over 20% of all Minnesotans and create a market-based platform that will allow insurance companies to compete for business. 

The exchange is another step toward making sure all Minnesotans have health insurance. It is better for all of us when more people have health insurance. Individuals with health insurance are more likely to go to the doctor for prevention and detection, which will save money in the long run. Additionally, lack of coverage increases uncompensated care costs for medical facilities, which then passes the cost onto consumers and taxpayers. More people with coverage will mean less uncompensated costs, saving everybody money. 

The Legislature is required to finish the exchange by the end of March, so the legislation will continue to receive a lot of attention over the next few weeks. 

To learn more about the health care exchange, or any other bill, please contact my office. You can reach me by phone at651-296-6820 or by email at sen.chuck.wiger@senate.mn. Or please come visit me at the Capitol. My office is 205, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. St. Paul, MN 55155. 

Jennifer S February 21, 2013 at 10:21 PM
I am looking forward to learning more about the exchanges. I certainly support having one. I will be attending an event at Grace Community Church in Oakdale on Monday the 25th that is supposed to go in more detail of how the ACA will effect our state. I am on MCHA which is a high risk pool for minor chronic conditions. Very expensive.

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