Buy your own health insurance now

Minnesotans who don’t get their health insurance through work or a public program like Medicare or MinnesotaCare can sign up now to get care in 2018.

If you want to start getting care Jan., 1, 2018, you have to sign up by Dec. 20, 2017.

You can find out more about your options and buy a policy three ways:

  1. Talk to a local insurance broker or assister and get free help.
  2. Compare what’s available through MNsure. If you quality for federal help paying your premiums each month, you must sign up through MNsure to get that help.
  3. Contact companies directly to ask questions, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica, PreferredOne and UCare. Medica and UCare policies may only be bought on MNsure.


Open enrollment for people who buy their own insurance ends Jan. 14, 2018.

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Statement on President Trump’s CSR announcement

“The Administration has been threatening this since it took office. Most insurers and regulators figured it was going to happen and have done what we can to plan for it this year.

Locally, the damage is different than the rest of the country. But it creates problems in the future. Here, it means legislators don’t really know how much money in the future will be available to fund MinnesotaCare. And it means another broken federal promise to people to who buy their own insurance.

Bottom line, in the future people most in need of help are going to be hurt.”

—Jim Schowalter, President, Minnesota Council of Health Plans



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Dear Acting Secretary Wright and Secretary Mnuchin

Minnesotans should not be punished for our innovative work that helps simplify the complex health care system so people get care.

PDF of Council letter regarding MinnesotaCare funding

Dear Acting Secretary Wright and Secretary Mnuchin:

More than 100,000 working, poor Minnesotans rely on MinnesotaCare, our state’s Basic Health Plan, to get the medical care they need. Recent decisions by the federal government put MinnesotaCare’s future funding at risk.

Echoing the statements of others across out state, my organization, along with our member health insurers, join community organizations and elected officials in asking you to reconsider the decision that reduces MinnesotaCare funding with the approval of our state’s 1332 reinsurance program waiver. These programs are both essential components of our state’s strategic work to help ensure Minnesotans get care. MinnesotaCare is a valuable pathway between Medicaid and private insurance, easing transitions and helping ensure consistent care for individuals and families.
Throughout the development and negotiation of the state’s 1332 waiver application, there was an expectation that MinnesotaCare funding would be maintained as is. We have been told the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Department of Treasury assured the state the waiver application met all requirements to keep MinnesotaCare funding intact.

Minnesotans should not be punished for our innovative work that helps simplify the complex health care system so people get care. Our new state-based reinsurance program and decades old MinnesotaCare reflect this commitment to innovation. We respectfully request you support this important work by maintaining the MinnesotaCare BHP funding in the 1332 reinsurance waiver approval.

The problem of rising medical bills is too complex to address without strong partnerships. We believe that our waiver can lower the cost of insurance and we are asking you to support it in partnership with the State, its insurers, and the many Minnesotans that buy insurance on their own.


James Schowalter

President & CEO

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Statement on Graham Cassidy

We should be spending our time making sure people get care, not counting votes.

“We must do better. Simply chopping federal spending will not slow rising medical bills and will mean new hardship for people who need care, who are elderly, or just don’t have the money. I know our leaders in Washington can do better. We should be spending our time making sure people get care, not counting votes.

Health policy is absent in this bill. Minnesotans, like everyone in America, deserve ideas that work and nothing less. We cannot move backward to a system where only some people get the care they need.”

Read the full statement here.

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Minnesotans who have put up with confusing information and skyrocketing premiums are at the mercy of negotiations with the federal government.

Statement by the Minnesota Council of Health Plans on the state’s effort to lower premiums for people who buy their own health insurance policies

“Like many Minnesotans, I am deeply concerned about recent events that created new, unexpected hurdles as the state works to lower premiums for people who buy health insurance on their own. Without federal approval for what’s called a 1332 waiver, these Minnesotans will pay about 20 percent more for their policies than necessary.

Unfortunately, despite concerted effort, we are extremely late in the process and still without the clear federal approval required by state law. The state is in a difficult position. Formal federal approval is still missing and government employees suggest that that approval of the waiver means cuts to MinnesotaCare funding.

We are just more than a week away from when rates are scheduled to be announced and letters get mailed to current policyholders. Until all contingencies are understood and resolved, waiver rates won’t be final. Minnesotans who’ve been at the center of confusing information and skyrocketing premiums are now at the mercy of negotiations with the federal government.

Regarding MinnesotaCare, we supported reinsurance as a practical step to reduce premiums and ensure options for people buying insurance on their own. At no point was it considered as a transfer of federal effort from the state’s MinnesotaCare program. Minnesota’s insurers did not seek the waiver to reduce federal spending, but instead, to slow our community’s rising insurance premiums and stabilize options for Minnesotans. We still hope for approval of the state’s waiver request without any strings attached.”

-Jim Schowalter, president of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans

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Be aware of mental health care needs 24/7

As Mental Health Month comes to an end the work to improve our mental health and overall well being continues.

Unfortunately, stigma, shame, misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding mental health still exist. It stops people for getting help. It affects how we see people who have mental illness. And it limits how we talk about mental illness and wellness, further isolating people with the disease.

Here are some programs and ideas to help you better understand mental illness. Take a look and share with your friends.

Hilarious World of Depression. This podcast is about depression. And laughs. From its website: Depression is an incredibly common and isolating disease experienced by millions, yet often stigmatized by society. The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with this disease, hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe. If you have not met the disease personally, it’s almost certain that someone you know has, whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague, or neighbor. Depression is a vicious cycle of solitude and stigma that leaves people miserable and sometimes dead. Frankly, we’re not going to put up with that anymore.


Make It OK. This campaign increases public awareness of helpful mental health care by helping people to talk more openly about mental health.

The 45-minute Make It OK presentation provides helpful, simple tips for talking friends and family members. In addition to taking the pledge, you can learn more about reducing stigma.


Mental Health First Aid© (MHFA.) This in-person training for youth and adults teaches how to assist people who are in crisis or are at risk of developing a mental illness. This eight-hour course teaches how to identify signs of addiction and mental illness, and how to evaluate the situation and provide help.

MHFA also gives people who take the course connections to local professionals who can help


Psychological First Aid (PFA.) Take the course used by first-responders and others to help children and adults experiencing immediate mental trauma. This trauma can come from violence, public health emergency, disaster or other event.

PFA is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health Office of Emergency Preparedness. You can take the course as a six-hour interactive online course or use the online manual.


Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR.)  These three simple steps  can help prevent suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis. QHR also teaches you how to question, persuade and refer someone to help.

Learn QPR in an hour at QPR’s website.


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