House Passes Atkins' Health Insurance Exchange Bill
The bill, which would create an online marketplace where Minnesotans can compare and purchase health insurance coverage, is expected to pass the Senate later this week before going to a conference committee.
Editor's note: The following is a press release from the office of Rep. Joe Atkins.
Monday night, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed HF 5, legislation establishing a health insurance exchange, on a bipartisan vote of 72 to 58. The exchange will be an online marketplace where Minnesotans can compare and purchase health insurance coverage. Health insurance exchanges are a key component of the Affordable Care Act. Representative Joe Atkins (DFL – Inver Grove Heights) is the chief author of the bill in the House.
“The health insurance exchange is projected to serve one out of every five Minnesotans — that’s more than 1.2 million Minnesotans,” said Rep. Atkins. “This is a Minnesota-made online marketplace: capitalism at its best. Individuals, families and small businesses will be able to get quality, affordable health coverage that fits their budget.”
Minnesota families are projected to save over $1 billion by using the exchange to purchase insurance — with the average family saving $500 and a lower-income family saving approximately $1,800. The exchange is expected to help roughly 300,000 uninsured Minnesotans gain coverage by 2016.
Nearly 200,000 small businesses employees are also expected to access coverage through the exchange. Small businesses currently pay on average 18 percent more than large businesses, an average of $11,000 per year for a family coverage. Small employers are projected to save up to 7.5 percent off of premium costs in the exchange and those eligible for tax credits will save even more. Small business owners would be able to choose the plan for their workers, or let their employees choose the plan that’s right for them.
“Not only will the exchange save money for families and individuals, it will help our small businesses save money as well,” said Rep. Atkins. “Every dollar a small business saves on health care costs is a dollar that can be spent hiring new workers and growing the business. And money saved by families and individuals can be spent in our local businesses. This is good for our economy and good for our state.”
The bill funds operation of the exchange by charging health insurance companies up to a 3.5 percent surcharge on premiums of the health plans purchased through the exchange. Exchange staff expects to charge less than 3.5 percent especially in the second and third years of operation.
Enrollment in the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange begins October 1, 2013, with plan coverage starting January 1, 2014. Minnesota’s Blueprint Certification Application, submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on November 16, 2012, stated that the legislature would make policy decisions by March 31, 2012. If states are unable to set up an exchange, the federal government will step in and establish it for them.
“Minnesota has a unique opportunity to lead the country in health care reform, reduce costs for families, and help more than one million Minnesotans,” added Rep. Atkins. “It’s time to leave the status quo behind and make progress for Minnesotans.”
The Senate is expected to pass their version of the Health Insurance Exchange bill later this week. The two bills would then go to a conference committee.