Can the exchange come to the rescue?

  • Updated: September 28, 2013 - 7:37 PM
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Gabriel Keller and Lars Peterssen are facing higher premiums for their workers.

JOANNE BOYER

When Joanne Boyer logs on to MNsure to pick new health insurance, the screen will be blurry — because cataract surgery is one of the medical needs she put off because of her current plan’s high costs.

“I’ve been holding off for two years,” she said, “not seeking medical treatment I need.”

Joanne, 60, and her husband don’t have workplace benefits because they are self-employed, and no private insurers would sell them affordable coverage because of Joanne’s breast cancer diagnosis five years ago and her husband’s ulcerative colitis as a young man. So the state’s costly high-risk plan for people with chronic conditions has been their only option lately.

The St. Louis Park couple’s status as insurance untouchables is changing, though, because the Affordable Care Act requires MNsure plans to take all comers — no matter what conditions they have.

Joanne believes the couple could save $80 per month in premiums and gain superior coverage. So now maybe she can get her blurry eye fixed — not to mention the breast exams, skin cancer checks and colonoscopies her doctor urged.

JEREMY OLSON

 

ANDI CHENEY

At 27, Andi Cheney doesn’t have many medical needs, but she hardly feels like a “young invincible,” the term for healthy twenty-somethings who forgo insurance.

The Minneapolis bike commuter figures she needs coverage because she is one errant car maneuver from calamity.

“For what I’m worried about, a catastrophic bike accident, I don’t have $4,000 to cover a hospital stay,” she said.

Andi, an administrator for Bedlam Theater, is part of a Twin Cities’ arts community in which many artists and musicians are self-employed and have to buy coverage.

MNsure’s one-stop shop will help, she said. “A lot of my friends are baristas and independent contractor-type artists. They’re looking forward to having options laid out.”

Andi wants a plan that includes her doctor and has decent prescription benefits.

“I’ve switched doctors so many times that I’d like to not have to any more,” she said.

But only to a point. If the premiums for a plan with her doctor are too high, she’d probably buy a cheaper plan and switch doctors again.

JEREMY OLSON

  • related content

  • Joanne Boyer of St. Louis Park has put off needed health care and hopes for a break.

  • Andi Cheney, 27, has a risky bike commute but right now has no health insurance.

  • Christopher and Heidi Gegax pay constantly due to their family’s high deductibles.

  • At their farm near Montevideo, Audrey Arner and Richard Handeen, with dog Abby, fear a catastrophic illness or injury. Their deductible now is $10,000.

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