×

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Facts 2021

What Minnesota Residents Need to Know About Obamacare for 2021

Essential facts about the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) in Minnesota, including whether you must get health insurance, how much it will cost, and how you can save money.

ADVERTISEMENT

Updated: 2021-02-16 by

It's not too late! Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) enrollment will be OPEN in Minnesota from February 16 to May 17.

Minnesota has announced a special enrollment period for health plan signups under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This COVID-related enrollment period will run from February 16 to May 17. It mirrors the federal special enrollment period announced by the Biden administration, but Minnesota's SEP begins one week later, lasts a couple of days longer, and applies only to those who are currently uninsured.

This website provides information about getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including:

To begin, keep in mind these key points about health insurance in Minnesota:

1. You can use the COVID special enrollment period to get covered under the Affordable Care Act, even though open enrollment is over.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, MNsure will be open for new Obamacare signups between February 16 and May 17, 2021. If you are currently uninsured, you can use this special enrollment period to get covered for 2021. To learn more about enrollment, see How To Sign Up for Obamacare in Minnesota.

If you already have health insurance. If you're already insured, you can change plans only if you have a "qualifying life event." Otherwise, you must wait until open enrollment for 2022 plans begins in the fall of 2021. To learn whether you qualify for a special enrollment period that will allow you to switch plans, see What Happens If I Missed the Minnesota Obamacare Enrollment Deadline?

2. You won’t face a tax penalty for going without health insurance in 2021—but there are big downsides to being uninsured.

Obamacare’s tax penalty went away in 2019. That means that if you didn’t have health insurance coverage in 2020, you won’t have to pay a penalty when you file your taxes this year.

However, even though there's no more tax penalty, think hard about whether it makes sense to forego health insurance. A medical crisis could knock the financial wind from your sails and do more damage than the penalty would. (A study published in 2019 showed that a lapse in health insurance coverage can double a person's chances of ending up in bankruptcy.) Even if you missed open enrollment for 2021, special circumstances may allow you to obtain coverage.

3. Insurers are sticking with the Minnesota marketplace and average rate increases are modest.

After three years of rate decreases for most plans in Minnesota, most MNsure customers are seeing average premium increases between 0.67% and 4.21%, depending on their plan. All four insurers from 2020 will continue to offer plans on the exchange for 2021, and one new provider, Quartz Health Plan MN, is coming on board.

4. Premium subsidies are available to save you money.

Several forms of financial assistance can help you lower your health insurance premiums.

Federal tax credits. The federal government provides help with premium payments for those whose incomes fall between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. For example, for 2021 health plans, a family of four in Minnesota earning as much as $104,800 can qualify for subsidies, as can an individual who earns up to $51,040. Though the subsidies are tax credits, they are automatically deducted from the cost of your premiums each month, as long as you purchase your plan through MNsure.

Cost-sharing reductions. More than half of the people who purchase coverage through a health insurance exchange receive "cost-sharing reductions" (CSRs). Originally, these were payments the federal government made to insurance companies that allowed them to reduce deductibles and co-payments for lower-income Americans. In 2017, the Trump administration stopped paying for CSRs, but insurers and many state regulators found a creative way to keep the program alive—adding the costs to silver marketplace plans through a practice called “silver loading”—so CSR benefits remain available for 2020 insurance plans.

Keep in mind that cost-sharing subsidies are available only on silver plans. They will automatically reduce your premium if your income is no more than 250% of the federal poverty level. (For 2021 health plans, that means a family of four in Minnesota can't earn more than $65,500 and an individual not more than $25,520.) If you think you may qualify, look carefully at costs for the silver plans available at MNsure while you are shopping for coverage.

Medicaid. If your income is very low, you may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medical Assistance (MA) in Minnesota.

For more information, see Ways to Save Money on Obamacare in Minnesota.

5. Beware of insurance plans that don’t comply with the ACA.

In 2018, the Trump administration made it easier to purchase "short-term insurance plans" and a federal court upheld this move. Short term plans don’t have to cover preexisting conditions or the essential health benefits provided by Obamacare plans. Federal regulations allow short-term plans to last as long as three years. However, Minnesota limits these plans to six months. In addition, under state law, you can't have more than 12 months of short-term coverage in an 18-month period.

If you’re genuinely caught without health insurance and need it for a few months to cover a new health condition, you might want to consider a true short-term plan to get you through to the next open enrollment period. Otherwise, be careful of plans that don’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and shop around to look for coverage that truly meets your needs.

Remember, if your income is very low, you may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medical Assistance (MA) in Minnesota.

6. You can get help signing up if you need it.

A couple of years back, the Trump administration drastically cut funding for programs that provide help with health insurance enrollment. But the Biden administration is expected to quickly reverse that trend, making it much easier to get the information you need to get covered. To connect with local support resources, see How To Sign Up for Obamacare in Minnesota.

 

You may also be interested in:

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Saint Paul, MN: Law