- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2013

Minnesota’s insurance officials said Friday the state will offer some the lowest health insurance rates in the country on the state health exchange it will launch this fall to satisfy a key pillar of President Obama’s new health care law.

The Midwestern state is the latest to reveal how much Americans without employer-based insurance can expect to pay when they enter the exchanges to buy private coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“MNsure is pleased to offer Minnesotans a wide array of plans with some of the lowest premiums in the country,” said Brian Beutner, chairman of MNsure’s board of directors.

Under the law, insurers no longer can reject consumers with pre-existing conditions and must cover maternity and mental health services, causing fears that premiums could soar if risk pools are not balanced with young and healthy enrollees.

The Minnesota Dpeartment of Commerce said a 25-year-old nonsmoker in the Twin Cities area can get a low-level bronze plan for about $90 a month, and a higher-level silver plan for $120 a month.

Plans for 40-year-olds range from $115 at the bronze level to a $192 platinum plan, and from $244 to $407 for a 60-year-old.

The figures do not take into account income-based government subsidies that many enrollees will obtain to further defray the costs of their premiums.

Minnesota officials pitched the rates as welcome news and proof that President Obama’s signature reforms will help many residents gain access to affordable health coverage for the first time.

However, they are unlikely to persuade Republican critics of the law who say the government overstepped its bounds by forcing Americans to purchase health care coverage.

Congressional Republicans point to states where studies suggest premiums will rise, including Georgia, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. And a breakaway group of conservative lawmakers plans to use an upcoming budget showdown to defund the law before it takes hold.

A study released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation said insurance plans in Obamacare’s state exchanges will cost less than initially projected.

Analysts said the low prices are attractive but could come with an unintended consequence of enticing consumers to buy plans with less coverage than they need, which could leave them with bigger bills if they do need major care.

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