|By Starrla Cray
For assistance with MNsure, consumers can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call MNsure’s contact center toll-free at 1-855-366-7873 (1-855-3MNSURE).
Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For help filling out the MNsure application, contact an assistance provider in your area. A 91-page list of brokers is available as a PDF from mnsure.org. (Click on “get help,” then “find an assister.”)
Will I get a subsidy?
Under the federal government’s Affordable Care Act, the amount that citizens pay for health care depends on the amount they earn. People with higher incomes will pay the most, in order to subsidize those with lower incomes.
According to mn.gov, US citizens and legal immigrants who purchase coverage through MNsure and earn between 138 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level may be eligible for a tax credit subsidy. Those who earn up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level may also be eligible for a reduction in co-payments and deductibles.
The amount of the tax credit subsidy is partially based on the premium for a standard plan locally. According to MNsure.gov, the standard plan premium in many counties is low enough that tax credits will not apply.
Am I eligible?
People who are interested in finding out how much of a tax credit or reduction they qualify for (if any) can fill out an application on MNsure.org. Within three to five days, new applicants will receive a letter confirming their coverage eligibility.
Can I get free coverage?
Minnesota offers free health care to residents with low incomes (up to $15,282 per year for an individual) who are pregnant, are under age 21 or over age 65, are a parent or relative caretaker of a child under age 21, are blind, or have a disability. The program, called Medical Assistance (MA), provides coverage to more than 700,000 Minnesotans each month, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
For individuals with annual incomes between $15,282 and $22,980, a different program, called MinnesotaCare, may be an option. With MinnesotaCare, enrollees typically pay a monthly premium. People who don’t pay a monthly premium include children under 21, households with an American Indian enrollee, and some military families.
Individuals with yearly incomes between $22,981 and $45,960 do not qualify for MinnesotaCare, but they may qualify for tax credits, depending on age and geographic area.
What is the poverty level?
In 2014, an individual with an annual income of $11,490 is at the federal poverty level. Four-hundred percent of the poverty level is $45,960.
For a family of four, an income of up to $23,550 puts them at the federal poverty level. Four-hundred percent of that is $94,200.
To calculate the poverty level for larger families, add $4,020 for each additional person.
How are subsidies given?
If you qualify for a tax credit subsidy, you can choose to receive it three ways: in advance, when your coverage becomes effective, or through your federal tax return. Minnesotans who don’t pay federal income tax can have their tax credits given as a refund.
What is cost-sharing?
Some people may qualify for additional help for co-pays, co-insurance, deductibles, and yearly maximums. MNsure.gov states that cost-sharing assistance is generally available to those under a certain income individuals who earn up to $28,725, and families of four who earn up to $58,875.
What about businesses?
According to Small Business Majority, up to 4 million small businesses that offer healthcare coverage to employees may be eligible for a tax credit subsidy.
These businesses must have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees, pay average annual wages below $50,000, and contribute at least half of each employee’s premium.
A tax credit calculator is available at www.smallbusinessmajority.org.