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MNsure touts an increase in tax credits as open enrollment nears

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With rates going up by as much as 50 percent next year, officials at Minnesota's health insurance exchange expect to be busy when the open enrollment period starts Monday.

Minnesota's health insurance providers revealed significant premium hikes at the start of the month, affecting people who buy private individual or family insurance plans through MNsure or directly from insurers.

Last week, the Associated Press reported on MNsure's strategy heading into the third year. They expect more people will use the exchange to buy their insurance this year, because it's the only place where people can get tax credits lowering the cost of their premiums.

As a result of the upcoming hikes, more people than ever are expected to quality for these subsidies, which in some cases will leave their premiums lower than they are this year, MNsure has said.

"We don't want consumers to leave money on the table this year," interim MNsure CEO Allison O'Toole told MPR. "When premiums increase — it's sort of counter-intuitive, but the tax credits increase as well."

O'Toole previously said a single person earning up to $47,000 a year, and a family-of-four earning up to $97,000 a year, could qualify for assistance.

After a troubling first year in which glitches caused huge problems for the health exchange website, and the call center became backed up, MPR says last year's went much more smoothly and few problems are anticipated in its third year.

For anyone planning on using MNsure to get their health insurance this year, Hometown Focus has put together a list of "Five Things to Know" about the open enrollment process.

Among them is a suggestion that users take advantage of the exchange's ability to compare plans side-by-side to ensure they're getting the best deal.

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