WHAT IS AN EXCHANGE?
A Health Insurance Exchange is a marketplace for individuals and businesses to compare, choose, and buy affordable health insurance for high quality care. An Exchange can make health care easier to navigate for consumers and small businesses. It can allow Minnesotans to easily compare health insurance options based on cost, quality, and consumer satisfaction. It can also foster fair and equitable competition to encourage insurers and health care providers to place a greater focus on value and affordability.
An Exchange is an online marketplace where Minnesotans can purchase private health insurance or enroll in public programs like Medical Assistance and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Subsidies and tax credits will be available to eligible individuals and small businesses to make coverage more affordable.
An Exchange can help small businesses provide affordable coverage choices to their workers and allow employees to choose the plan that is best for them and their families. Employees will be able to use contributions from one or more employers to purchase coverage for them and their families and keep that coverage if they become self-employed, lose their job, or if they change jobs. An Exchange can also simplify the administration of health insurance for small businesses and allow them to focus on growing their business instead of managing health insurance.
When will the exchange be effective?
Consumers can enroll in the Exchange starting in October 2013. Health plan coverage begins January 1, 2014.
What functions would an exchange perform?
An Exchange would perform a number of functions, including:
• Operating a toll-free hotline and website for providing information
• Ensuring that health insurance plans meet certain standards (for example, related to marketing, access to health care providers, and reporting on quality of care).
• Providing information in a standard format to help consumers compare insurance companies and benefit plans
• Determining eligibility for individual premium tax credits, cost-sharing assistance, and coverage requirement exemptions
• Determining eligibility for Medical Assistance
• Determining eligibility for small business premium tax credits
• Providing real-time enrollment in health benefit plans
• Making an electronic calculator available to display the cost of coverage
• Communicating with employers regarding employee tax credit eligibility, cancellation of coverage, etc.
• Establishing a Navigator program that connects Minnesotans with an individual or organization that assists consumers and businesses to navigate an Exchange.
Who is eligible to use an exchange?
An Exchange would be available to be used by individual consumers and small businesses with up to 50 employees when it opens for enrollment beginning October 2013. Large employers may be allowed to participate in 2017. It is estimated that about 1.2 million Minnesotans will purchase insurance through the exchange.