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Minnesotans can start ‘window shopping’ using MNsure plan comparison tool today

MNsure officials announced this week that an online plan comparison tool is now available with updated 2017 plan information. This tool will allow Minnesotans to shop and compare plans in advance of open enrollment. The tools helps Minnesotans quickly compare plan options, and learn about their health insurance costs and financial assistance. This year, it will be available in both English and Spanish, as well as in a format compatible with mobile devices.

“This comparison shopping tool allows Minnesotans to identify coverage options and financial assistance in just a few minutes,” said MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole. “Consumers can use the tool to ‘window shop’ before they decide whether to begin the actual enrollment process.”

The comparison shopping tool, which is located at mnsure.org, can be used for individual market plans offered through MNsure. It helps educate consumers to choose the health plan that best fits their needs and budget. It identifies premiums and deductible amounts, as well as estimated out-of-pocket costs based on health status and expected use of medical services.

“With health insurance companies capping the number of enrollees they will serve this year, we’re urging consumers to shop and enroll early,” said O’Toole. “They can’t start enrolling before Nov. 1, but they can start comparison shopping with this tool right now. More than 80 percent of consumers used this tool in 2016 and reported it was helpful in selecting a plan.”

The tool also identifies whether a consumer is eligible for tax credits to offset premium costs. Individuals earning up to $47,520 annually, or a family of four earning up to $97,200 per year qualify for a tax credit. Last year, about 100,000 Minnesotans potentially qualified for tax credits. The average tax credit last year was $206 per month.

While MNsure encourages consumers to shop early for 2017 coverage, it cautions them to not begin the actual enrollment process for 2017 coverage until Nov. 1, the first day of open enrollment for 2017 coverage. If consumers initiate the enrollment process prior to Nov. 1, they will need to go through the enrollment process again after Nov. 1, because tax credit eligibility changes starting Nov. 1. In other words, they can shop prior to Nov. 1, but they shouldn’t begin enrolling until Nov. 1.

The 2017 open enrollment period begins Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31, 2017. Minnesotans eligible for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare can enroll year-round. As of February 2016, 96 percent of Minnesotans have health coverage — the highest percentage in state history.

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