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Continued: Docs ready for wave of new MNsure patients

  • Article by: JEREMY OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 12, 2014 - 6:57 AM

Among people who bought private plans on MNsure so far, nearly a third selected “platinum” plans with the highest premiums but best benefits — an indication they are selecting plans they intend to use.

Coverage is coming a bit late for Jamez Smith, who lost his health insurance in 2013 when he was laid off from a nonprofit agency and then suffered a severe dog bite that left him with steep medical bills.

Still, the coverage Smith gained through MNsure will allow him to seek care he had put off — monthly visits his doctor recommended to manage high blood pressure.

“After I lost my job, I explained to him that I couldn’t afford to see him once a month,” said Smith, who is 50.

Van Auken was working in quality control for a hearing device company when she took a second job as an at-home caregiver; that pushed her income above the threshold for state-subsidized benefits. Then she lost her second job because her neglected health deteriorated.

Suffering an immune disorder that attacks her digestive system, Van Auken is supposed to take a $17,000-per-infusion drug, Remicade, every other month. But after she lost coverage, she received one infusion in September and put off another until she could obtain benefits under MNsure. In the interim, she was hospitalized for kidney stones and amassed $20,000 in medical debt.

“I’m relieved to have insurance,” she said. “At my age anything can happen, and it did happen.”

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744

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  • Coverage of MNsure health insurance launch

    Monday July 28, 2014

    Star Tribune coverage of MNsure, Minnesota's new health insurance exchange.

  • Michelle Van Auken of Little Canada racked up medical debt while uninsured.

  • health coverage

    72,000: Number of Minnesotans who have obtained health coverage through MNsure

    135,000: Preliminary state target through 2014

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