MNsure squeeze expanding

When open enrollment first came on the horizon, the DFL instantly said that MNsure “only” directly affected 250,000 people. I’ve frequently challenged that assertion because it doesn’t paint the entire picture. While it’s technically true, it’s only true due to the qualifier “directly.”

The secret to the spin is that qualifier. The PR people don’t want others to know that insurance companies losing money in the individual market bleeds into other markets. For instance, Blue Cross lost $500,000,000 on the individual market last year. (That’s why they’ve announced that they won’t participate in the individual market anymore.)

It isn’t a stretch to think that Blue Cross’s $500,000,000 loss last year caused them to cut expenses elsewhere. Unfortunately, cutting expenses carries a human price with it. One of the people affected by Blue Cross’s decision is Sarah Gill, a Kindergarten teacher in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District. Ms. Gill has 3 children, ages 6,5 and 2. Her youngest child, Aiden, “was diagnosed with a rare birth defect called congenital diaphragmatic hernia at 22 weeks gestation and was given a 50 percent survival rate. I chose Sartell Pediatrics in 2013 after learning about Aiden’s diagnosis and I needed a pediatrician who was willing to answer all my questions, close to my home and work, and easily available for appointments. I want my children to continue to receive their medical care at Sartell Pediatrics because of the exceptional care of the doctors and staff there. The doctors and staff know my family and my children’s medical history, especially Aiden’s. Aiden’s diagnosis and medical care is rare and unique and many doctors have not treated patients with this condition. The doctors and staff at Sartell Pediatrics have gone above and beyond for my family.”

Sartell Pediatrics is part of a network called Integrity Health Network. This afternoon, I spoke with Jill Smith, the administrator at Sartell Pediatrics. She told me that IHN negotiates contracts with the insurance companies, which allows them to focus on improving health care practices. She told me “We’re proud to be part of Integrity Health Network and we would like to continue to have them negotiate our contracts with Blue Cross and other insurance providers. Sartell Pediatrics, among the other Integrity Health Network clinics, are some of the most cost-effective providers in the region. Data released by Minnesota Community Measurement in early October highlights Sartell Pediatrics with the 5th lowest total cost of pediatric care in the state. These are good health care providers and we are concerned about the negative impact on access and costs due to Blue Cross’s decision.”

I’ve confirmed that other provider networks are getting dropped by Blue Cross and that they’re being told it’s for financial reasons. Since Blue Cross isn’t in the individual market anymore, their decisions are affecting people not in the individual market. It isn’t a stretch to think that MNsure is just the tip of the iceberg that’s negatively affecting health care in Minnesota. The information I’ve gathered indicates that the money being lost by health insurance companies in the individual market, aka MNsure, is narrowing the size of networks while driving up premiums.

If Gov. Dayton and the DFL don’t step up and fix all of the problems involved in Minnesota’s health care crisis, voters should vote the DFL out of office in 2018. This crisis isn’t just about too-high premium prices. This crisis is about deductibles being totally unaffordable, accessibility being difficult and network and options being too limited.

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Authored By Let Freedom Ring Blog