It goes without saying that the pandemic has changed the world as we knew it. Still, some things have stayed the same. While having health insurance may be more important than ever, it still may be necessary to sign up during open enrollment. In Minnesota, open enrollment for 2021 coverage started Nov. 1 and continues through Dec. 22. If you can’t get health insurance from work, a spouse, or a parent, it’s a good idea to look into health insurance during this time — or risk being uninsured for the year.

A few things are new this year.

First, there are more plans available through MNsure for St. Louis County residents than last year. This means that even if you already have coverage set up through MNsure, it’s a good idea to double check that it’s the plan you want to stick with for 2021. If you have a Qualified Health Plan from 2020 and take no action, you will be automatically enrolled in the same plan for 2021; many people opt to “passively renew,” but it’s worth reviewing your options.

Second, many, many people have experienced changes this year. If you have used MNsure to get health insurance at some point in 2020, it is important to make sure the information MNsure has is still accurate. If at some point in the year you were laid off and received unemployment income, it is important those changes are reported or there could potentially be an unpleasant surprise at tax time.

The best way to review plans and get help reporting changes is to work with a local navigator. Navigators are free assisters who can answer questions and take you step-by-step through a MNsure application. You may have worked with a navigator in the past at one of several locations.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

That’s one more thing that’s new this year: Navigators are currently conducting most appointments remotely by phone or HIPAA-compliant Zoom. The process of getting navigator help is the same: Call one of the local navigator organizations and set up your free appointment. The navigator will then contact you at the scheduled time and the appointment will take place from the comfort and safety of your home.

Navigator contact information can be found at insureduluth.org or here for your convenience:

  • Lake Superior Community Health Center: 218-722-9650

  • Community Action Duluth: 218-726-1665

  • YMCA at Essentia Wellness Center: 218-241-8008, extension 527

  • Generations Health Care Initiatives: 218-336-5709

  • WE Health Clinic: 218-727-3352

This open enrollment, take the extra precautions that will help you weather the pandemic: Get health insurance — from home!

Megan Halena is program director for Generations Health Care Initiatives (ghci.us) in Duluth.