ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- Healthcare and health insurance in Minnesota are about to get a massive makeover, and it might not be where you would expect it.
Computer programmers are working in St. Paul to build the state's health insurance exchange.
There are very few cities in America where healthcare is as central to the way of life as it is in Rochester.
If you come here to the Mayo Clinic and Saint Marys hospital, the one thing that is almost as important as your care is your insurance.
It doesn't look like much now, but the men and women in this room are working to fundamentally change the way healthcare and health insurance work in Minnesota.
"It will change things by giving consumers more choice and freedom over their choice of healthcare," said April Todd-Malmlov, MNsure's Executive Director
This October, they're unveiling MNsure, the state's health insurance exchange marketplace signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton just weeks ago.
"We are in the sprint stage," Todd-Malmlov said. "I think that's the easiest way to phrase that. We're in the stage here a few months before open enrollment where we are putting together all the IT pieces."
We already buy so many different things online. We book vacations on travel sites, fill our closets through online retailers and buy everything from books to computer cables on Amazon. The idea of MNsure is to bring that simplicity and familiarity to health insurance.
"Hopefully the end product to the consumer will look something as consumer friendly as searching for an airline ticket on Travelocity or using something like Zappos to buy shoes," Malmlov said. "We're hoping that it's that simple for consumers."
MNsure is being created as part of national Affordable Care Act, but because the site is being created by Minnesotans in Minnesota, its meant to meet the needs of other Minnesotans, and that means it will have some features that aren't available throughout the country.
"We are going to be bringing defined contribution to small businesses," said Todd-Malmlov. "What that means is letting employees make the choice of which plan is best for them while the employers are contributing to the cost of that. That's something we're not seeing at the federal level in the first year and we're very proud of the ability to bring that to our small businesses."
Mayo Clinic is bracing to care for thousands of new patients due to the Affordable Care Act -- that's part of the reason for Destination Medical Center in Rochester.
The MNsure site doesn't open until open enrollment starts in October, but you can expect to see advertisements start this summer.
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