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ST. PAUL — Each Minnesota county will have at least two health insurers in the individual market next year, and prices for the plans as well as small-group insurance plans will remain relatively stable.

That's according to insurance rates released Tuesday, Oct. 1, by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The final average prices varied in comparison to those posted for 2019, with some offerings in the individual market decreasing by 20% and others increasing by as much as 0.18%.

MNSure, the state's health insurance exchange, will offer 122 health plans in 2020, up 39 from the 83 offerings in 2019. Each county in the state will have at least two insurers offering health plans as Blue Plus joined Medica in offering statewide plans. And at least 14 plans are available in each county. Delta Dental and Dentegra will also offer dental plans through the exchange.

The announcement of flatter rates comes after a year of greater certainty at the federal level. Efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act stalled out after the 2018 midterm election split political control in Congress.

State lawmakers were quick to vie for credit for the steady rates Tuesday, with Republicans touting their efforts to pass reinsurance, a program that uses state funds to offset risk in the individual market as the factor that kept prices stable. Democrats, meanwhile, said the short-term victory in keeping prices down shouldn't prevent lawmakers from making longer-term changes to expand health care access and affordability.

Business owners with 50 employees or less can buy insurance for their full-time workers through the small-group market. Those who don't get insurance through their employer or public programs like Medicare, Medicaid or MinnesotaCare can buy plans through the individual market.

“Rates for health insurance plans in the individual and small group markets for 2020 indicate that Minnesota has stable health insurance markets," Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley said. "However, many Minnesotans still struggle to afford health insurance, due in part to the combination of expensive premiums and out-of-pocket costs."

Tax credits are also available for families with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level. That came out to $49,960 for an individual and $103,000 for a family of four in 2019. Roughly 60% of current MNsure enrollees are receiving tax credits.

More than 250,000 uninsured Minnesotans could be missing out because they don't know they qualify for the tax credits, MNSure CEO Nate Clark said. A 2017 Minnesota Department of Health survey found that 75% of uninsured Minnesotans would've been eligible for financial assistance through MNSure.

"There is a misconception that most people earn too much to qualify for financial help through MNsure when the truth is that an individual earning up to $49,960 a year, or a family of four earning up to $103,000 a year, can qualify," Clark said in a news release.

The open enrollment period starts on November 1 and will run through December 23 for coverage beginning January 1. Minnesotans can review plans through MNsure beginning Oct. 15.

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