Local view: Give the gift of health this yearis the season to give yourself or someone you care about the gift of health coverage. In the past, many people have been unable to find affordable health insurance. With the launch of
By: Jenny Peterson, Duluth News Tribune
is the season to give yourself or someone you care about the gift of health coverage. In the past, many people have been unable to find affordable health insurance. With the launch of
MNsure, as part of the federal Affordable Care Act, people in Minnesota have new opportunities to enroll in a health insurance plan that fits their individual needs.
While health insurance may sound like an unusual holiday gift, there are several reasons it may be the best present you could give. I will mention just a few.
The first is to maintain good health. People with health insurance are more likely to seek preventive care and manage their chronic conditions (such as heart disease and diabetes), and they are less likely to delay getting care when needed. Health insurance plans are now required to cover a number of preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs. Those with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage.
A second reason is protection from financial risk due to large medical bills. Sickness and injury can happen to anyone. For some, health insurance may seem an unnecessary expense; however, not having it could cost much more. The average cost of just one day in the hospital is nearly $10,000. Medical debt is one of the leading costs of personal bankruptcy. With the new health plans, there are caps on out-of-pocket expenses.
Finally, having health insurance provides peace of mind. People who are uninsured or underinsured report being stressed that a health crisis could happen to them or their family. If a medical need does arise, people without health insurance often do not receive or delay needed medical care.
Most people insure their homes, cars and other material items. Why wouldn’t you want to insure yourself and cover your health?
With MNsure, shopping for health insurance in Minnesota has become much easier and more affordable.
MNsure is a one-stop website to shop, compare options and enroll in a health insurance plan. Anyone can use MNsure. People with higher incomes can purchase health plans at the lowest rates in the U.S. People who have low and moderate incomes can enroll in public programs such as Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare or receive subsidies to reduce the cost of health insurance.
And there is assistance to help individuals and families through the enrollment process. Certified navigators are available at trusted places such as the Duluth Public Library, Lake Superior Community Health Center and Community Action Duluth. Just call to make an appointment. Or dial United Way’s 211 hotline to find a navigator. Insurance brokers also are available to help small businesses and individuals.
Many people have not looked into buying health insurance in the past because it was too expensive or too complicated, or because they felt it wasn’t necessary. Initial reports from local navigators indicate people have been pleasantly surprised to find affordable coverage for themselves and their families.
So shop early and avoid the rush. The deadline for enrolling for coverage that begins Jan. 1 is Dec. 23. However, MNsure is open for people applying for a health plan until March 31. Enrollment for Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare can be done anytime during the year.
There is a well-known adage that says it all: When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters. Please use the holiday season or the New Year to give the ultimate gift of good health by enrolling in a health-coverage plan.
Jenny Peterson is executive director of Generations Health Care Initiatives, which is a member of the Insure Duluth Coalition. The coalition is urging health-insurance signups under the federal Affordable Care Act.