Enrollment Caps in Minnesota Health Insurance

Many Minnesota residents opt to buy health insurance privately on an individual basis rather than joining a group health plan through an employer. However, it’s important for anyone in Minnesota thinking about shopping for insurance to do so as soon as possible. Almost every plan offering individual insurance has an enrollment cap. These caps are meant to prevent healthcare providers from becoming overwhelmed. Once the enrollment period begins, many providers are expecting to fill up quickly.

Who’s Affected?

About 5% of Minnesota residents purchase health insurance on the individual market. That’s roughly 270,000 of Minnesota’s 5.4 million total population. Each carrier has an enrollment cap that applies to the entire state, not by county. The major health insurance providers and their caps are:

  • The UCare enrollment cap is 30,000 – nearly double the number of who enrolled in 2016 (16,000).
  • Medica has an enrollment cap of 50,000, only 7,000 more than its enrollment in 2016.
  • HealthPartners has a 72,000 enrollment cap, only 6,000 more spots than offered last year.
  • HMO Blue Plus is the only plan without an enrollment cap, but is a very narrow network.

These plans cannot lower their caps, but may decide to increase them during the open enrollment period. Anyone currently covered on the individual market can renew a current plan regardless of how many new people sign up for coverage.

It’s important to note that the first three plans, UCare, Medica, and HealthPartners, only plan to enroll about 152,000 people. As previously stated, the Minnesota individual market is almost twice that number. Some of those people already have coverage or don’t plan to change their policies, but this still indicates that enrolling in coverage is going to be quite competitive.

It’s also important to note that customers aren’t going to find themselves in situations where they sign up for a plan but are then denied coverage because the enrollment cap has been reached. MNsure, the Minnesota insurance exchange program, will track enrollment. Once a plan has reached a cap, it will be taken off the exchange overnight. This means any customers who sign up after the cap has been reached but before the plan has been removed will still have their insurance.

Premiums Increasing

Part of the reason Minnesota customers need to shop as soon as possible for individual health insurance coverage is rising premiums. Most individual market health insurance premiums are going to rise as much as 50%. This means more people than ever are going to be trying to find affordable coverage that allows them to see the healthcare providers they want to see. This coupled with the new enrollment caps means that customers who wait until January – or even late November/early December – may only have one or two options left.

Many people form bonds with their doctors and healthcare providers over time, and don’t want to have to switch to a new doctor just because of insurance. This means that many people shopping on the individual market are going to scramble to secure coverage in their preferred networks that allows them to see the doctors they know and trust. It’s going to be very difficult to secure desired coverage, and even more difficult to find a suitable alternative if a first choice isn’t an option.

Minnesota residents shopping for health insurance coverage on the individual market are heavily encouraged to start looking for a desirable policy as soon as possible. Enrollment is expected to close very quickly, and while some options such as HMO Blue Plus are not using enrollment caps, these programs are typically limited in terms of their network size and number of doctors. Don’t risk missing out on the coverage you want – shop for your policy and secure it as quickly as possible.