Column: MNsure health care options“We are here to help,” says Rory Strange of United Way Duluth’s 2-1-1 helpline. 2-1-1 has long been a source of information for basic services such as where to find a meal or a place to volunteer.
By: Liz Olson, For the Budgeteer News
“We are here to help,” says Rory Strange of United Way Duluth’s 2-1-1 helpline. 2-1-1 has long been a source of information for basic services such as where to find a meal or a place to volunteer.
Starting in October United Way 2-1-1 will join with other organizations throughout the Greater Duluth area to help answer questions on getting enrolled in health care coverage with the start of MNsure.
MNsure is a one-stop health insurance marketplace where Minnesotans can compare and choose a quality affordable health insurance plan.
In addition to qualified health plans, MNsure will also be a tool for
accessing low-cost and free programs such as Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare.
MNsure is slated to open October 1. As with the start of anything new, challenges are inevitable. Despite these challenges, the start of MNsure brings a huge opportunity for an estimated 1.3 million Minnesotans to access affordable health care coverage.
With this region’s uninsured rate at 11 percent — 2 percent higher than the state average — there are many people to reach. Many will qualify for public programs and others will be able to access tax credits on the exchange.
To reach these individuals who are currently without health insurance, sixteen local organizations have teamed up to form Insure Duluth. Insure Duluth includes a wide variety of organizations, from United Way 2-1-1 to social safety-net providers and local hospitals. Insure Duluth partners will use their unique perspective and expertise to educate
the community about
affordable insurance options available through MNsure.
Several Insure Duluth partners will start offering in-person assistance for individuals applying for health insurance through MNsure. These trained staff will be called “navigators” and be located at trusted community organizations, such as the Duluth Public Library. Navigators will be able to assist individuals in using MNsure to apply for health care coverage.
“In addition to the new navigators located at community organizations, the Health Care Access office will also have a navigator who will be mobile, traveling throughout the area,” shares Jessica Crowley, coordinator at the Health Care Access Office. “We’ve been assisting with health care enrollments for the uninsured for many years and we are excited to see a
bolstered and coordinated effort to reach more people.”
Included in the plan for Insure Duluth is a series of door-to-door information canvasses and community-based enrollment fairs. The intention of Insure Duluth is to bring the MNsure information to where people already go for information on other important issues in their lives.
While MNsure provides a great tool to access an expanded range of affordable coverage options, the key will be to make the community aware and to offer help in getting enrolled. As Crowley described, “With so many more people eligible for public health coverage programs and subsidies through MNsure, our collaborative is poised to do something to improve the lives of many in our community. These efforts aren’t about making MNsure successful but about reaching those currently uninsured in our community. Ultimately, this important work will help make our community healthier.”
Liz Olson is employed at Generations Health Care Initiatives, a private foundation that supports innovative, local programs that expand access to health care and improve the health of underserved people in the Duluth-Superior area and northeastern Minnesota.