The state’s MNsure health exchange has extended the open enrollment period for 2019 coverage because many insurance counselors will be extra busy this fall helping more than 300,000 Medicare beneficiaries pick a new health plan.
MNsure officials said Wednesday that the annual open enrollment period will run Nov. 1 through Jan. 13, 2019. That’s about one month longer than the sign-up period on the federal government’s Healthcare.gov website, which serves as the insurance exchange in most states.
Minnesota has the flexibility to adjust the sign-up calendar because the state opted to create its own health exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act.
“Shopping for health coverage is a complex process, and Minnesotans rely on the free in-person assistance offered by MNsure’s assister network,” said Nate Clark, the acting chief executive at MNsure, in a statement. “This year our assisters face additional challenges given the amount of change coming to Minnesota’s Medicare plans.”
More than 300,000 Minnesotans will be changing Medicare health plans next year when a federal law eliminates certain health insurance options in the Twin Cities and across much of the state.
For more than a year, insurers have been sizing up the shift with Medicare Cost plans, a specific type of coverage that’s distinct from Medicare Advantage plans that are more common outside Minnesota. This summer, insurers that sell Medicare Cost plans are sending several hundred thousand letters to consumers about the transition, explaining that details about coverage options will be coming in late summer or early fall.
People don’t use MNsure to sign up for Medicare coverage, but many insurance agents that work with Medicare clients also help people sign up for individual market coverage. The exchange is an option for the roughly 150,000 state residents in the individual market — primarily people under age 65 who are self-employed or don’t get job-based coverage.
People at certain income levels who buy individual coverage via MNsure can quality for federal tax credits that discount premium costs. People also can sign up via MNsure for coverage in the state’s Medicaid program.