Two weeks ago, MNsure, Minnesota's health insurance exchange program, opened to the public with a host of issues.
Many weren't able to create an account, let alone buy insurance.
When we left off on October 1st, I was unable to create an account with MNsure. They weren't able to identify me. That problem's now fixed, and I've created an account.
But some challenges still remain ahead.
When creating a username, they ask for something called a "shared secret". I have no idea what it is, and couldn't find anything to explain it. So I treated it like yet another password, and filled in a four-letter word of my choice.
They also ask for Security Questions. These were quite vague, including "What city I'd like to retire to." Just make sure to write down which answers you select for each of these fields.
Success! I'm in. Time to start shopping for health insurance.
Go to my account.
And check costs.
You'll have to repeat a lot of the identification steps. This is how they're going to figure out who you are and how much you'll cost to insure.
After selecting certain things I want, like a gym membership discount, I'm now presented with the plans they offer.
A couple of things are missing here though. The quality rating... it's coming soon.
But a much bigger deal is the fact that I can't find out what hospitals, clinics and doctors are covered by which plan. The search function doesn't work.
That's not good.
Randy Miller, who sells insurance with Nesbit Agencies says, "You shouldn't buy it because there's substantial penalties as far as your co pays and your deductions and things that are covered and not covered."
Any way, I'm looking at insurance costing me $148 a month for premiums with a $6,300 deductible. That's the amount I'll have to pay before the insurance kicks in. The higher the deductible, the lower the premiums, and vice versa.
So I went to a local insurer to find out how much it would cost to cover myself under the old system.
Miller says, "So $122 a month is what you're looking at."
$122 with a $7,500 deductible. Understandable, since MNsure covers additional things like mental health.
But the kicker is that MNsure was a Bronze plan. It covers only 60% of costs after the deductible. The Health Partners plan Miller found for me is essentially a Gold plan. It covers 80%.
So I'll wait until more info is available on the site, and as Governor Mark Dayton points out, "Compared with other states and the federal government, it's doing phenomenally well."