Healthcare Reform in Minnesota
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA & often is referred to by the shorter acronym, ACA) is more commonly known as Obamacare and the goal of the law is to lower overall healthcare costs and drastically increase the amount of people with health insurance, effectively making affordable healthcare available to every citizen of Minnesota and the rest of the United States. This healthcare reform is quite drastic and there won’t be many parts of the entire healthcare industry untouched by the time all aspects of the law are in effect in 2020. The PPACA was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010 and only a week later, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 was signed into law, which among other things, made several changes to the more intricate parts of the PPACA.
Some parts of the healthcare reform law were made effective immediately while other provisions needed either preceding changes to the healthcare system to work or simply time to set up. The majority of Minnesotans and Americans won’t see many major changes until January 1st, 2014, when all citizens will be required by law to have health insurance. There are fines for non-compliance and some groups of Minnesotans are exempt. With the new requirement of all Minnesotans to have health insurance, there will also be financial help for individuals and families that need to purchase their own health insurance and are making less than 400% of the poverty level (those with income up to 138% of poverty level will qualify for Medicaid). To receive any financial help or to apply for Medicaid, Minnesotans will need to use the Minnesota health insurance exchange at MNsure.org, which will be operational October 1st, 2013.
State Health Insurance Exchanges
The ACA in its entirety is focused on the entire nation, but a very important part of the healthcare reform efforts within the law are state’s individual health insurance exchanges. These state health insurance exchanges or “state exchanges” are online marketplaces where citizens will have the opportunity to comparison shop and purchase health insurance in a more open, transparent and efficient manner. Each state is different, but health insurance plans must meet certain federal standards and be approved before being offered at state exchanges.
A major goal of the healthcare reform that is underway is to offer affordable healthcare to all and these state exchanges are the vessel to make that possible. In order to receive federal subsidies, which will lower the cost of health insurance on a sliding scale, individuals must purchase health insurance through their respective state exchange! Likewise, small employers must also offer health insurance to their employers through their state exchange in order to qualify for subsidies in the form of the Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers. It is not mandatory that anyone use their state exchange to purchase health insurance; continuing to use a broker will be OK, but the possibility of receiving federal subsidies is eliminated that way.
Much more to come on State Exchanges, the Minnesota Exchange and Healthcare Reform here and throughout the rest of MNSureThing.com!