Minnesota Health Insurance
Six insurance carriers offer 2021 health plans in The North Star State. Rates are lower now than in the year before.
Minnesota Health Insurance Overview
Minnesota Marketplace plans are among the cheapest available. Most residents get financial help to lower their monthly premiums. Affordable coverage is also available through government programs for low-income residents.
Here’s a more in-depth look at health insurance in Minnesota.
Minnesota and the Affordable Care Act
Minnesota’s uninsured rate was lower than the U.S. average in 2013 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented. About 8% of the state’s population lacked coverage at that time compared to 15% for the rest of the country.
Minnesota still has one of the lowest uninsured rates of any state. Just 4% of Minnesotans have no health insurance as of 2018. This number amounts to nearly 239,000 uninsured residents out of a population of almost 5.5 million.
Medicaid expansion under the ACA or Obamacare contributed to more residents with health insurance. In 2014, the state expanded Medicaid eligibility to childless adults who earn up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL).1 This is sometimes shown as 138% because of how the FPL is calculated.
As of October 2019, nearly 207,000 Minnesota childless adults gained coverage under the expansion.2
Buying Minnesota Health Insurance for Individuals, Families, and Self-Employed Professionals
You can buy Minnesota health insurance through the state’s Marketplace, an agent or broker, or directly with an insurance carrier. If you’re a self-employed professional with no employees, you have the same options as individuals and families.
Companies offer comprehensive health plans that include all 10 essential health benefits required under the Affordable Care Act. These include hospitalization, prescription drug coverage, free preventive care, plus vision and dental benefits for children. All ACA plans are guaranteed-issued regardless of your health. Plans must cover all preexisting conditions.
Each metal plan pays a certain percentage of your care from 60% (bronze) to 80% (gold). Catastrophic health plans are generally reserved for adults under 30. But older adults who qualify for a hardship exemption can enroll.
Minnesota Health Insurance Marketplace
Minnesota runs its own Marketplace (or exchange) called MNSure. You can use it to shop for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and apply for financial help. Your application reveals if you qualify for help with an ACA plan or low- or no-cost coverage through a government program.
MNSure accepts applications for ACA coverage during the open enrollment period (OEP). Minnesota’s version runs from November 1 to December 22, which is longer than most states. The standard OEP for states that use the Healthcare.gov Marketplace ends on December 15.
You can enroll outside this period if you have a qualifying life event, such as loss of health coverage or a move to a new area.
COVID Special Enrollment Period
Minnesotans who have not signed up for a 2021 health plan have a second opportunity to do so. The state opened a Special Enrollment Period from February 16, 2021 through May 17, 2021.
Minnesota Health Insurance Companies for Individual and Families
- Blue Plus
- Group Health (HealthPartners)
- Medica Insurance Company
- UCare Minnesota
- Quartz Health Plan MN (new)
Health Insurance Costs in Minnesota
Silver plans are the benchmark for plan affordability. The government uses this number to calculate how much help you may receive to pay monthly premiums. The average benchmark premium in Minnesota for 2020 ($309 per month) is the lowest among all states where Marketplace plans are sold.
For 2021, the state approved a 3.9% increase on premiums, which comes to $9 for the average unsubsidized plan.4
Rates for 2020 bronze, silver, and gold plans are cheaper than in the past two years.
Here are the average Marketplace monthly premiums in Minnesota from 2018 to 2020:
|Minnesota Marketplace Average Monthly Premiums||2018||2019||2020|
|Average Lowest-cost Bronze Premium||$315||$271||$256|
|Average Lowest-cost Silver Premium||$370||$309||$294|
|Average Benchmark Premium||$385||$326||$309|
|Average Lowest-cost Gold Premium||$461||$364||$355|
Financial Assistance With Minnesota Marketplace Plans
Financial assistance is available on plans sold through the Marketplace (MNSure). Support is provided two ways:
1. Premium tax credits (or subsidies): This reduces your monthly payment on any metal plan.
- Minnesotans can earn up to $49,960 for a single person in 2020 to qualify. This is 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL).5
- Sixty percent of enrollees qualified for subsidies in 2019.6
- The average subsidy was $312 per month.
2. Cost-sharing reductions (CSRs): This lowers your out-of-pocket expenses, including copays and prescription drug costs.
- CSRs only apply to silver plans.
- You qualify if you make up to 250% of the FPL (up to $31,225 for a single person in 2020).
- Twelve percent of enrollees qualified for CSRs in 2019.7
Minnesota Government Health Programs for Low-Income Residents
Low-income Minnesotans have access to health insurance through two government programs:
1. Medical Assistance (MA): This is a Medicaid program, which is jointly funded by the state and federal government. About 918,000 Minnesota adults and children enrolled as of October 2019.8 There’s no monthly premium for coverage. But you’ll have copayments for some services, which range from $1 to $3.
The program is open to legal residents and citizens, including:
- Children and families
- Pregnant women
- People with disabilities, including blindness
- Seniors 65 and older
- Adults under 65 without children who qualify under Medicaid expansion
The income limits for Medicaid in Minnesota vary. For example, adults over 18 must make no more than 133% of the FPL (up to $16,611 in 2020 for a single person). The limit for children is 275% of the FPL, which amounts to $46,502 for a family of two.
2. MinnesotaCare: This coverage is separate from Medicaid and is known as a Basic Health Insurance (BHP). Under the Affordable Care Act, states are allowed to set up BHPs for certain low-income residents who don’t qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or other minimum essential coverage. You must earn between 133% to 200% of the FPL to qualify ($16,970 to $24,980 for an individual in 2020).9
- Coverage is provided through local insurance plans and includes all 10 essential health benefits.
- You may pay a monthly premium depending on your household size and income.
- You may have small copays for care.
- You must not be enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B.
Minnesota Medicare For Seniors and Younger Adults With Disabilities
Medicare is a federal health insurance program generally for people 65 and older. But adults under 65 with disabilities or chronic illnesses can qualify.
Minnesota is home to roughly 1 million Medicare beneficiaries as of 2018. More than half of all enrollees (about 570,000) get benefits through private Medicare Advantage plans. The rest have Original Medicare, which is a public program run by the federal government.
Both options provide Part A hospital and Part B medical insurance. But Medicare Advantage offers extra benefits, such as Part D prescription drug coverage.
Private insurers also offer standalone Part D drug plans. Many beneficiaries buy these plans to add drug coverage to Original Medicare. About 435,000 Minnesota beneficiaries bought a separate Part D drug plan in 2018.10
Medicare Supplement in Minnesota
Medigap is regulated differently in Minnesota. Most states offer 10 standard plans, lettered A through L, that provide the same basic benefits. But Minnesota doesn’t have lettered plans. You can choose from options, such as the Basic plan, Medicare Select, and Supplemental Plan with 50% or 75% coverage.
Short-term Health Insurance in Minnesota
Minnesota short-term coverage is available for up to 185 days (roughly six months), but plans can’t be renewed. You have the option to buy another plan when the six months are up. You can only get a total of 12 months of coverage in an 18-month period.
Short-term health plans are not regulated under the Affordable Care Act. So they don’t offer ACA protections. For example, you can be denied coverage due to health. Plans can also exclude coverage for preexisting conditions (including pregnancy) and essential health benefits like maternity and mental health care.
Before you buy a plan, make sure you understand the coverage limitations. Compare all your Minnesota health insurance options to see what makes sense for your needs.