Gov. Mark Dayton, through his Commerce Commissioner Michael Rothman, mislead the public about health insurance rate increases. Rothman stated on October 1, to a room packed with reporters – and me – that insurance premiums were going up 4.5% at MNsure this year. He said that Minnesota still would have the lowest rates in the nation. Rothman, by the way, refused to even discuss the bulk of health insurance sales in our state, those that occur outside of MNsure.
Gov. Dayton has since repeated Rothman’s claim about the 4.5% increase. Everyday Minnesotans clearly recognize Dayton is repeating Rothman’s spin (lie sounds so crude). Does this matter in the larger scheme of life? If a governor misleads you on so critical an issue as this, what does it say about his other claims?
The 4.5% is the average increase among insurance carriers that will sell products on MNsure this year to Twin Cities’ residents. These five companies – HealthPartners, Medica, BlueCross-BlueShield, UCare, and Blue Plus – will offer insurance in the Twin Cities. However, in other areas of the state, only one or two plans will be offered – UCare is sold in only a few areas of the state..
Since UCare dropped its prices by 9% in the Twin Cities, Rothman saw this as proof that prices only went up 4.5% ignoring the fact that UCare sold less than 600 policies on MNsure in 2014, while BlueCross-BlueShield sold more like 10,000, and their rates went up 17%. Everyone else went up by double digits, too.
The average rates in areas other than the Twin Cities also spiked upwards by double-digit amounts. But the 2,000 Pound Gorilla is the specific issue Rothman ignored, even though I called him on it.
At the end of the October 1 press conference, I asked Rothman to comment on insurance sold outside of MNsure (MNsure, in reality, only sells a small percentage of individual and small group insurance plans). I wanted him to talk about PreferredOne, the company that wrote 60% of new coverage at MNsure in 2014 – and refused to sell on MNsure during 2015.
Rothman would not comment about PreferredOne, and for good reason. A few days after the press conference, PreferredOne released its individual rates for 2015. Their average increase across the state? 63%!!!
What does all this mean, and does it even matter?
It means that the Affordable Care Act will punish families and individuals by forcing them to buy very expensive health insurance in 2015. Even if you use MNsure and receive a tax subsidy to pay your insurance premium, your rates will go up by double digits for 2015.
What does it say about Gov. Dayton when he refuses to tell the whole truth about health insurance rates? “Politics as usual,” the cynic would answer. “They all do it,” you might say.
Not acceptable, and I’ll tell you why. The spikes in insurance premium are driven by a very bad law – the Affordable Care Act (also called ObamaCare). In Minnesota, we should call it DaytonCare, because the yarns he’s telling about it are just as false as those told by Pres. Obama.
DaytonCare will cost you far more than you can afford. If you fall into a lower-income bracket and are auto-enrolled into Medicaid or Minnesota Care, you should be able to afford the monthly cost (zero to $50). Try to find a doctor on short notice, or at all – that’ll be your problem. According to The Wall Street Journal, only 23% of Minnesota physicians will accept Medicaid patients.
Now that you have a few facts, you have to decide. If you like DaytonCare and ObamaCare, vote for the man who wouldn’t give you a straight answer on this critical issue. Then hope you can afford health insurance going forward.
If you don’t like being lied to about such a critical issue, then vote for someone else. GOP candidate Jeff Johnson didn’t lie about this, and neither did Independence Party Candidate Hannah Nicollet.