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about the online marketplaces

The Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance marketplaces are open for business. Remember these key dates:

Oct. 1: Open enrollment starts.

Jan. 1, 2014: Coverage obtained on the exchanges goes into effect. Most individuals are required to have health insurance.

March 31, 2014: Open enrollment period ends for the year. It will reopen in October 2014.

April 1, 2014: If you don’t have insurance, you’ll face a fine. Penalties will begin at $95 a year per person, or up to 1 percent of a family’s income, whichever is greater. (The penalty will increase in future years.) The penalty for an uninsured child is $47.50.

get more information

• Read our past projects and latest developments at startribune.com/healthcare.

• For a primer on the overhaul, go to startribune.com/newsgraphics.

• Apply for insurance on the marketplace at www.healthcare.gov.

• To see if your Minnesota clinic is included, www.health.mn.gov/mnsurenetworks.

• Get more federal information toll-free at 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325.

Health beat: MNsure's deep thought security questions

  • Article by: Jeremy Olson
  • Star Tribune
  • October 5, 2013 - 4:52 PM

 

Now I know why it takes people so long to get through the MNsure online health insurance exchange. It isn’t selecting from dozens of health plan designs or the start-up glitches of the new website. It’s the introspective questions they ask you to create for security purposes!

I lost five minutes in deep thought trying to answer, “Who is the most memorable person in your life?”

Well, I suppose I should really say my wife. That’s the right thing to do. But there was that time I met Michael Jordan coming out of an elevator. That was pretty cool. Wait, where would I be without my old journalism professor, Dave Nimmer? Great teacher, but man, that guy used to cuss a lot …

And so ran my thoughts until I decided to see if any of the other questions would be easier on the brain.

Next up was, “What is/was your grandfather’s occupation?” Well that’s easy, I thought. He was a farmer. Oh wait, I had two grandfathers. Grandpa Bud ran the gas station in Jackson. Shoot. Which one will I think of first two years from now? And then I just started to feel guilty because I thought of Grandpa Charles first. I loved both my grandpas — and now I was no closer to shopping for health insurance.

Turns out, Minnesota isn’t the only state to challenge online insurance customers with security questions that provoke some memories. One state exchange reportedly asks about the first person you kissed, while New York gives you the option of naming the band poster you had on your wall in high school.

Two words: “Rush rules!”

Actually, the MNsure questions aren’t the brainchild of anyone in Minnesota. MNsure official John Reich said they come from “a federal service that we rely on.”

While the questions might be quirky, they clearly are designed to protect your identity and prevent someone else from meddling with your health insurance account. Answers such as birthdays and street addresses hardly provide the security today that they might have years ago.

Now if I can just answer, “What city would you like to retire to?”

Aruba? Wait, that isn’t a city …

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