Health Insurance Options for 2017

The recent headlines about healthcare have been terrible:

Individual health plan premiums to jump at least 50 percent in Minn. (Star Tribune, 10/1/16)

‘Emergency’ for Minnesota as huge insurance premium hikes confirmed (Pioneer Press, 9/30/16)

Insurance costs have skyrocketed for people who need to buy individual plans — which is the only option for many farmers, self-employed people, small businesses and rural Minnesotans.

Dealing with Healthcare for 2017

If you need to buy your own health insurance for 2017, here are some steps to take to find the best option (This is for people who do not have health coverage through Medicare or an employer):

Check if your income qualifies you for a more affordable insurance option. Check the chart at the bottom of this page to see if your income qualifies you for Minnesota’s public healthcare programs (Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare) or federal tax credits to help afford a private plan.

Is your income less than the number in the far right column below for your household size? If so, you should qualify for cheaper monthly insurance premiums — but the only way to get these tax credits to reduce what you pay each month is to enroll in insurance through MNsure.

Consider enrolling in insurance through MNsure — go to www.mnsure.org to find out more. For 2016, only one-third of those who bought individual insurance went through MNsure — meaning lots of people may have missed out on help to reduce their premiums. Those who received credits through MNsure had their premiums lowered by an average of $200/month.

You can go to your insurance broker, but make sure you ask them about MNsure — it is the ONLY way to get tax credits that lower what you pay each month. There are also people called “navigators” available, whose job it is to assist you with signing up for insurance.

The small group insurance market may be an option. Check out a recent blog by LSP member Charlie Prokop about the small group insurance market, which may be an affordable option for self-employed individuals seeking health insurance.

Enrollment Caps & Dates to Know

Many of the insurance companies are putting a cap on the number of individual plans they will sell for 2017. You may want to sign up as early as you can once open enrollment starts Nov. 1, 2016.

Dates to Know:

Nov. 1, 2016: Open enrollment starts, so you can begin signing up for 2017 health insurance plans.
Dec. 15, 2016: Last day to enroll to have your insurance plan start on Jan. 1, 2017.
Jan. 31, 2017: End of open enrollment for signing up for 2017 individual health insurance plans.

(If you are eligible for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare, you can sign up at any time.)

Click on the chart below to view an enlarged image of the annual income limits that qualify you for healthcare cost assistance.