Rep: Greg Davids: Customers and taxpayer lose money with MNsure rate hikes
I was flabbergasted after reading the Oct. 7 Rochester Post-Bulletin editorial that basically insinuated everything continues to be great if you're getting health insurance through MNsure, despite the fact that your health insurance premium costs may have jumped by nearly 50 percent.
Two years ago, President Barack Obama and my Democratic legislative colleagues assured us Obamacare and MNsure would be a money saver, a godsend for Minnesotans looking for affordable health insurance. The average family will save nearly $500 a year we were told. Some families will save in the neighborhood of $1,800!
Now, those same families will see double digit hikes in their premium costs. According to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, Minnesota's rates have jumped from the lowest in 2015 to the highest in 2016.
What does this mean locally? Comparing the average monthly premium for a gold plan in southeastern Minnesota from 2014 to 2016, a 25-year-old will pay $504 more — or a 16 percent increase. A 60-year-old will pay $1,128 more a year, or a 13 percent jump in costs for the same coverage.
Not to worry, says the Post-Bulletin Editorial Board. That's what federal tax credits are for.
Of course, that simply means forcing the hardworking taxpayers to pay even more to fund an unaffordable health insurance program. Yes, federal subsidies can bring down the cost of these plans, but let's not kid ourselves about where this money comes from.
Meanwhile, we continue to do nothing to address the skyrocketing cost of health care. If the rates rise, we'll raise the tax credits again. Insurance goes up, taxpayers pay more. Second verse, same as the first.
With its track record of failure and frustration, everything is not fine with MNsure, and it's time we made a change. Along with helping pay for Obamacare at the federal level, Minnesota's taxpayers also have spent hundreds of millions more on this state exchange debacle. MNsure's dysfunction also has led to higher administrative costs for insurance carriers, costs that are passed on to their premium-paying customers.
Let's be clear, there's not a lawmaker in this state that does not support Minnesotans being able to acquire affordable health insurance. But the facts have shown that MNsure is the textbook definition of fiscal irresponsibility, and we need to do something about it.
Last year, House Republicans passed legislation that would improve transparency and lower rates by increasing access and competition. Yet despite the fiscal estimate from the Dayton administration showing our plan would provide tremendous savings for Minnesota's taxpayers, Democrats refused to make the reforms necessary to improve the access and affordability of health insurance in Minnesota.
My hope is that MNsure shoppers will be able to find health-care premiums they can afford while still having continuity of care. But whether it's wasting $250 million on MNsure's failing website or pumping more federal tax dollars into Obamacare, we're proving that throwing money at a problem only prolongs that problem.
For those customers who utilize MNsure, and those taxpayers who are funding its existence, it's time to pursue some common sense financial reforms.
Greg Davids, a Republican from Preston, represents District 28B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He can be reached by phone at 651-296-9278 or by email at email@example.com.