• Determine whether you qualify for a tax credit.

If you are not sure, check the Kaiser Family Foundation’s calculator at http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/

To receive financial help, you must purchase insurance through the MNsure website at mnsure.org. This includes accessing tax credits to lower your monthly premiums and enrolling in government programs, such as MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance.

• Go directly to the health insurer’s website.

If you don’t qualify for subsidies, avoid the MNsure crush and go directly to the private health insurers, which operate their own websites and call centers. More details are available from industry group’s website at mnhealthplans.org.

• Find a community navigator or independent broker.

If you do qualify for financial help and don’t feel confident shopping online, use the MNsure website to find a certified broker or community-based navigators.

• Check out MNsure’s tips.

If you want to shop MNsure on your own, read the agency’s tips on the bottom right side of the home page. The online application forms require precision that isn’t always obvious. Web browsers such as Firefox and Google Chrome seem to work best. And you can’t use a smartphone or tablet. MNsure’s tips for creating an account are especially useful at mnsure.org/images/MNsure-Consumer-GeneralHelpfulTips.pdf.

• Call the MNsure help desk.

If you’re still stumped, call the help desk at 1-855-366-7873, but prepare for a long wait. If you’ve taken all the right steps — created an account, selected a plan, paid your premium — but haven’t heard from your insurance company, sit tight. Insurers are working through a backlog to get insurance cards and packets to new members. 

• Pay the premium by Jan. 10.

Pay online when you select a plan, if you can. But you have until 5 p.m. Jan. 10 to have a payment to MNsure or the insurance company's offices.