As deadline nears, MNsure reminds: Get health coverage or face a fine

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It's the final week Minnesotans can sign up for health insurance through MNsure for 2015.

The state-run insurance exchange will be closed come Feb. 16 (that's next Monday), and anyone without a plan at that time – whether it's through MNsure, an employer, or public assistance – is susceptible to a penalty. (Read more about how much you could pay, below.)

In anticipation of a flood of last-minute interest, MNsure's help center will be open longer than normal for the next seven days. The hours:

  • Monday-Friday – 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Saturday-Sunday – 8 a.m.-midnight

Wait times for the call center have averaged less than 60 seconds for the past several weeks, CEO Scott Leitz said in a statement. But he expects that to go up during the final stretch.

“By now, I think we all know that call volumes increase as deadlines get closer, and with that comes increased wait times," he said. "This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, and Minnesotans calling us during these final days of open enrollment should expect to wait longer than a couple seconds to reach an agent.”

No coverage? A fine is coming

By the way, if you don't have health insurance, you'll pay a fine: either $325 per adult (and $162.50 per child under the age of 18), or 2 percent of your yearly household income – whichever one is greater.

Find more details about the penalties here.

Enrollment goals

With about one week to go, about 46,000 Minnesotans had signed up for a private health insurance plan (so not including MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance).

The goal is 67,000 private plans by the end of this enrollment period.

The Star Tribune says MNsure is using some social-based tactics – such as an informational meeting at a bowling alley – to lure more young people into signing up.

The Affordable Care Act is partially banking on getting the generally healthier 18- to 34-year-olds signed up as a way to balance out the costs of older people, who usually need more care. As The New Yorker explains, it's a way to pool together the costs, with healthy adolescents offsetting the cost of ailing adults.

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