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Dayton, leaders plan meeting to talk about soaring health insurance

ST. PAUL—Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders are discussing how they can deal with soaring health insurance premiums.

Dayton spokesman Sam Fettig said the governor plans to meet Tuesday morning, Nov. 1, with House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. The governor's met with Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, on Monday and he has spoken to Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, and House Minority leader Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis..

Legislative leaders and Dayton all have offered plans to reduce premium increases. While they go about it in different ways, there are similarities.

Tuesday is the first day Minnesotans can buy individual policies, including from the state-run MNsure Website. Predictions are that there will be problems, especially on MNsure, as people rush to buy next year's insurance quickly.

State officials say insurance policies will cost 50 percent to 67 percent more on average next year. Also, all but one insurer has limited how many policies they will sell for 2017. Blue Cross Blue Shield will offer its Blue Plus health maintenance organization policy to anyone who wants it in all but five counties, but it is more expensive, has high deductibles and does not always allow patients to use their own doctors.

Dayton has said he wanted an agreement with lawmakers about how to lower 2017 insurance costs before Tuesday, but in any case he wants it as quickly as he can so Minnesotans can make better decisions when buying insurance.

Individual policies will be on sale through the end of the year, although regular insurance policies are expected to be purchased quickly. About 5 percent of the state's residents buy individual policies.

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