Insurance Company with Lowest Rates, Most Customers Pulls Out of MNsure

eated: 09/16/2014 10:49 AM KSTP.com 
By: Jennie Olson

It’s a major blow to the MNsure health insurance exchange – the insurance company with the lowest rates and the most customers signed up through MNsure will not be back in 2015.

The decision is expected to have a major impact on health insurance customers and the governor’s race.

Golden Valley-based PreferredOne Health Insurance just notified MNsure and the Minnesota Department of Commerce of their decision through a letter. Sources tell KSTP’s Tom Hauser that MNsure CEO Scott Leitz was notified by phone Tuesday morning.

Leitz and PreferredOne CEO Marcus Merz released a joint statement about the decision:

“Today PreferredOne made the decision to not offer health plans through the health insurance exchange in 2015. Simply put, both organizations understand that MNsure is still an evolving partnership.  This decision impacts 2015 enrollment. Consumers still have at least four, well-known, Minnesota based carriers who are committed to providing important health coverage to Minnesotans through MNsure, including people who qualify for tax credits and public programs. MNsure and PreferredOne will work closely to minimize impact to current enrollees in a PreferredOne Plan through MNsure.”  

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Leitz said he is disappointed with the decision but Minnesotans will still have other options for health insurance through MNsure.

“We level the playing field for consumers. We provide options so Minnesotans can make wise choices,” he said. “We anticipated some bumps along the way, and we’re still seeing some of those bumps.”

As of Aug. 6, Preferred One had 59 percent of the individual market MNsure enrollees. Blue Cross Blue Shield was a distant second at 23 percent, with HealthPartners, Medica and UCare much further back.

Preferred One got such a large share, because they had the lowest rates of the five insurance companies in the program.

MNsure board chair Brian Beutner says this doesn’t change what MNsure is doing for Minnesotans.

“What’s important to keep in mind … this is a long-term solution, and what happened today is just one step along that journey,” Beutner explained.

It’s possible this could signal big rate increases to be unveiled in early October, and that could have a significant impact on the elections.

“One of the big land mines looking out over the campaign will be when MNsure announces its new rates for health insurance premiums,” University of Minnesota political expert Larry Jacobs said. “If those go up by 10 percent, some have even suggested 15 percent, then that could really shake up this election.”

Minnesota House Republicans and the MN GOP have already released statements about the news.

“MNsure is such a debacle that PreferredOne is now pulling out for ‘financial and administrative reason,'” Chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota Keith Downey said. “This tells Minnesotans what they already know, MNsure is a failure.”

Minnesota Democrats, including Governor Dayton, have not commented at this time.

The change won’t affect coverage for 2014, but it will affect new sales and renewals for 2015.

Anyone who has PreferredOne through MNsure can still directly renew through the company, but they won’t get the government subsidy. To get the subsidy, they will have to choose a different insurance plan starting Nov. 15.

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