Jennifer Slafter, and her family, are a good example of a set of circumstances making it tough for some to get the help they need through the state's new health insurance exchange program known as MNsure.
Slafter along with her husband and two daughters found out their health insurance premiums were going up about 40 percent in 2014. Slafter's husband was told by the owner of the small company where he works that Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) from the employer would no longer be allowed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because the company did not offer a health insurance plan to its employees.
Faced with a higher deductible and a much higher monthly premium, Slafter says she went to the MNsure website hoping to find a cheaper, or comparable health plan for the family.
Slafter tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she was told her options would amount to a much higher premium and higher deductible than the plan they already have.
Slafter says she called MNsure to see if those were the only options and she says she was told the only cheaper alternative was to put her and her husband on a private plan and shift their two daughters to a Medicaid plan. Slafter does not want to split the family up with different coverage.
As disturbing as that information is, there's more disturbing news for the family:
She adds, Fillmore County officials told her there are no Medicaid medical providers in her county, which means they would have to travel much farther to get their children the medical care they need and probably not with the doctor they currently use.
People would think that it couldn't get much worse than your insurance premiums going up 40%. They'd be wrong in thinking that. People in rural Minnesota like the Slafters, specifically their children, would have to travel beyond their county to for care if they chose to use MnSure. With that, the children almost certainly wouldn't be able to continue seeing the doctor they've seen all their lives.
In other words, the key thing that Minnesota families have learned about the ACA isn't that it isn't affordable. The key thing that Minnesota families have learned about MnSure is that it presents rural families difficulties in getting health care for their children.
Finally, it's worth noting that few doctors are accepting Medicaid patients. Rural families have the additional challenge of keeping their children's doctors.