But some important, can-do perspective was missing in the recent uproar over the proposed prices for 2017 individual market coverage.
The state's track record in finding solutions to complex health care challenges suggests that
That's a key reason why the Star Tribune Editorial Board has long called for the creation of a state health care task force to focus on stabilizing the individual market. It's good that Gov.
Solutions will require legislators' input and action. That's why calls by some Republican lawmakers to "kill" MNsure in the wake of the rate hikes are unhelpful. MNsure, launched as part of ACA reforms, is an online marketplace selling health insurance. Consumers can buy coverage through MNsure, but they can also buy plans directly from insurers. In fact, about 73 percent of the 270,000 people in
The state's ailing individual market is composed of all of these policyholders. Laying the blame for price hikes on MNsure is akin to blaming one website, such as Travelocity, for unaffordable airline tickets.
As the task force gets to work, it should recognize that the problem before it is one that has vexed policymakers throughout the modern era. "How to insure the uninsurable," is how
To protect profits and tamp down plan prices, insurers historically have sought to exclude people requiring ongoing, expensive medical care. This is a key reason why
Thanks to the ACA's protection, those with preexisting conditions can buy on the individual market, where they may have more choices and where coverage often is more affordable than what the high-risk pool option provided. One major problem with the state's individual market is that it appears to be too small to spread out these costs affordably among all individual policyholders.
There are some in
Possible solutions to bring rate relief include merging the individual market with the one serving small employers; this would increase the number of people paying in. Launching a state-run financial safety net for insurers serving high-cost patients is another. Also worthy of consideration: allowing consumers to buy into the MinnesotaCare program or to tap into ACA financial assistance in plans sold outside MNsure.
All options should be explored, but solutions must be forward-looking and acknowledge that the ACA is the law of the land.
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