Notes From Norm – Demand The Truth

On a warm summer day in July, Governor Mark Dayton said this when refusing to release the exchange rates for MNsure until after the November Election:  “I think they are going to be so badly distorted for political purposes that I don’t think they will shed any light for consumers.”  

The very next day, Governor Mark Dayton changed his tune and promised to release the rates in October:  “Making the rate information public before open enrollment begins would provide families and businesses additional time and information to help them make informed decisions regarding their health coverage options in 2015.”  

This summer’s 24 hour change of heart was just another example in a long list of Dayton policy twists and turns, but after months of waiting, his administration’s political appointees dutifully held a press conference on the first of October to release some rate information with their best spin prepared.  I say “some” rate information because they aren’t releasing private plan rates, nor are they releasing specifics on which plans face which increases.  Those will have to wait until after the election.

Minnesotans will remember that PreferredOne, which provided insurance to 60% of those that signed up for the MNsure plan, dropped out of the exchange a few weeks ago.

This means that thousands of Minnesotans enrolled in MNsure under PreferredOne will have to shop for new coverage.

New coverage either IN the MNsure Exchange or OUT of the MNsure Exchange.

This much is true:  Whether you’re a Minnesotan IN or OUT of the MNsure Exchange your insurance premiums are going to go UP.

One provider’s rates will go up 17% — and that is going to be a massive financial burden for those families.

Two other provider’s rates will increase 1.8% and 8.1%.

Only one insurer dropped their rates by about 9%.

Three out of four providers increasing rates is not a cause for celebration.

Attempting to bamboozle Minnesotans by saying that the average rate of increase is only 4.5% neglects the thousands whose premiums are going up by 8.1% and 17% and completely ignores the baseline rates from last year’s PreferredOne plans, which were the cheapest and most popular plans last year.

We also don’t know for the 60% of MNsure enrollees currently covered by PreferredOne how much will their premiums increase if they opt to remain with PreferredOne outside of the MNsure exchange, because those rates aren’t public.

The Governor and his staff are silent at this elephant in the room – they say they will not release approved rates for the private market early.  So those shopping outside of the exchange have even less time to review policies and select the best choices for their families.

Dayton’s reversal within 24 hours in July now seems logical given the immensity of the impact on the health care premiums of Minnesotans.

While the MNsure premiums have increased he can at least attempt to downplay the impact of the increase because he knows full well that the most explosive rate increases won’t be revealed after the election.

Case in point, his political appointees held a press conference to assure us that MNsure rates would “only” rise an “average” of 4.5% next year – despite promises that rates would fall under MNsure.

Truth be told, PreferredOne and other insurers have already provided a great deal of information to the Governor and his administration about what their rate increases for 2015 will be. They have to – they must be approved by the administration.

The Governor could direct his appointees to disclose that information now.  Not after the election.

They could give us an average.  A ballpark.  An estimate.

Something tells me they could even tell us down to the decimal point what the rate increase will be after the Election.

Which is the point.

Governor Dayton could be completely transparent now – not after the election.

All he needs to do is pick up the phone and direct his Commissioner of Commerce to tell Minnesotans how much more their health care premiums are projected to increase in 2015.

If the Governor won’t pick up the phone and make that call, will a newspaper do it?

Will anyone in Minnesota’s press corps find the courage to demand the truth?