The words “MnSURE”, “Health Care Reform” and “Obamacare” have been splashed across local and national headlines recently. Many Americans have been affected by health care changes which have generated confusion and many questions. The MnSURE website was created to help people explore health care options and select the best choices to fit their needs, however, the process has been challenging for many.
The Tri-County Action Program, Inc. (Tri-Cap) organization, located in St. Cloud, has been at the forefront of helping citizens in our local communities to access and navigate the MnSURE system. In January, Tri-Cap held a MnSURE enrollment event at Rasmussen College in St. Cloud. The success of the event prompted Shannon Tietz, Mobility Manager at Tri-Cap, to reach out to Minnesota School of Business in Elk River to continue their mission of assisting those that are in need of support with the process.
According to Tietz, “Initially our outreach involved holding open forums where the basics of MnSURE were explained, what to expect when completing an application, and if they or someone they knew needed help, where they could go to find help…these events provide an open forum with computers, internet and knowledgeable people that help the average person find health insurance for their family.”
“In early January, our regional group got together to discuss how things were going, what was working well, and what wasn’t. It was suggested that holding enrollment events or specific times when a navigator would be available to help with some of the hurdles of the software could be a more efficient use of time,” explained Tietz, “…and as someone that enjoys event planning, I jumped right on this and set up the first enrollment event. Several agencies pledged navigator support and the event just took off from there.”
Tietz, along with a crew of navigators from organizations in the St. Cloud area, came to MSB-Elk River to help local residents. The event was held from 1-6 p.m. and drew a number of visitors who were able to get registered for programs that fit their needs.
Michael Zdychnec, health care management program chair, took part in the planning and scheduling of the event on campus. “Implementing health care reform has obviously had its challenges on both a national and state level. The Elk River campus provided a valuable service to those needing assistance by providing access to the technology (computers) and the navigators to help individuals sort through all the confusion,” said Zdychnec.
MSB student, Sara Carter, was also an integral part of the event as a navigator. She had assisted with the previous event in St. Cloud and was able to do the same at MSB-Elk River. Carter shared her thoughts about the events and her experience saying, “I have met so many people that have needed insurance in a really bad way; I have been able to help them obtain insurance and it feels wonderful to do that. Doing these events is a great way to help a larger group of people.”
Zdychnec is in the process of working with the MnSURE organization to continue their efforts of helping the public to navigate and secure the correct health insurance. A similar event is tentatively scheduled at the Brooklyn Center campus. Tietz is doing the same with Tri-Cap and they have three more sessions planned in March. She shared her appreciation for the support that they have received saying, “I truly believe we are so lucky to live in this state! Minnesota is known for advancements in healthcare and low insurance premiums. We are one of only 14 states that chose to create our own health care insurance exchange because we knew we could do it better than most others out there.”