More than three hundred people streamed into South Central College to hear about the effects of the Affordable Care Act and MNsure... Minnesota's version of a health care exchange.
Rep. Clark Johnson (DFL - St. Peter) says, "It's a nice opportunity to educate the public about the significant changes that are happening. And it's a Minnesota system that's looking very promising."
While Minnesota's health exchange will be geared more toward younger Minnesotans who are more likely to be uninsured, the questions matched the audience, namely, people wondering if those over the age of 65 would be eligible.
The short answer: no.
April Todd-Malmlov, the executive director of MNsure, took on just about every question from the crowd, and just about all off the top of her head, listing the different levels of insurance and income limits, etc.
The takeaway for individuals:
The exchanges will begin open enrollment in October, with coverage first available in January.
Everyone will be required to get insurance. If you don't, you will be fined 1% of your income in the first two years... 2.5% starting in 2016.
Subsidies will be provided for low-income individuals and families.
Of the three hundred originally at the meeting, one hundred stuck around for the business portion of the forum.
Businesses with more that 50 employees will have to offer insurance to their employees starting in 2015, or will otherwise be assessed fines.
Less than 50, no requirement.
Rep. Johnson says, "Insurance in general is complicated, at least it is for the Johnson family. And it's important. Health insurance particularly. This is a new way of buying health insurance, new products, and it's our chance to help people make good educated decisions."