From the Land of 10,000 Lakes to the Land of Enchantment, two more states have taken steps toward establishing their own health insurance exchanges.

Minnesota’s Democratic Governor Mark Dayton is soon expected to sign into law an HIX that passed the state legislature, while New Mexico’s Republican Governor Susana Martinez has already put pen to paper. She’s one of a small number of GOP governors, along with peers in nearby Nevada and Idaho, to approve a state-run exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

Minnesota and New Mexico are among only 18 states that have reportedly opted to establish and operate their own health insurance exchange beginning in 2014, while the federal government will oversee the rest through a state-federal partnership. 

The Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act, which is projected to cost of $50 million to $60 million a year, will be initially financed by a 3.5% assessment of total premiums for individual and small group market plans sold that are through the exchange.

Health insurance carriers must apply by May 17 to sell products in the exchange, though their participation is voluntary. The exchange, which will be run by a seven-member board of directors, replaces the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association through which Minnesotans who were turned down for coverage because of a pre-existing condition obtained individual health insurance.

In the meantime, New Mexico’s law takes effect immediately amid a rush to ready its HIX for enrolling uninsured residents beginning October 1. About 200,000 New Mexicans are estimated to be eligible for enrollment by 2020, while a service center will be set up to ensure the HIX is accessible for the state’s native American tribes and pueblos. A 13-member governing board soon will be appointed to oversee the exchange.

An attempt to establish an HIX through the nearly 20-year-old nonprofit New Mexico Health Insurance Alliance was tabled during the recent legislative session. In addition, legal action was threatened over whether a new insurance marketplace could be unilaterally created before an agreement on legislation that established the HIX was finally reached.

Shutan is a Los Angeles freelance writer.


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