Like a game of Monopoly, seeking health assistance can, at times, be a roll of the dice.
In one scenario, phoning the main number at Eden Prairie City Hall to find out about health care that is governmentally provided for Eden Prairie residents results in a response that the city is not responsible for health care of residents. Further, it is indicated that Hennepin County is responsible for residents’ health care. Also, a Hennepin County phone number is provided – just not the one for health care or human services.
Instead, the incorrect phone number connects you with Hennepin Environmental Health. Since the environmental people have frequently received calls from individuals navigating this path, they helpfully provide a phone number to Hennepin County Front Door Social Services.
Once connected with the right resource, finding health assitance is less of a roll of the dice, more of a journey.
Kathryn Heffernan Carson, Senior Department Administrator (Hennepin County Human Services-Economic Supports), believes in the Minnesota health system but is aware of the need for guidance through the twists and turns of the system. She offers two useful approaches for the ordinary person.
If you have no computer, she tells you how you can use your phone effectively. Start by phoning 612-348-4111, the Front Door Social Services. They will get you oriented and do a little screening.
Then, the guidance from Heffernan Carson is to call a very important number: 612-596-1300. These are the Economic Supports people. They can connect you in your home area with invaluable people called Assisters and Navigators. The support people will also put you in touch with MNsure (pronounced Minn-shur), the insurance exchange for Minnesotans.
Per Heffernan Carson, if a personal computer is available or can be used at a Hennepin County library you can go to the MNsure website: mnsure.org. There lists of Assisters and Navigators await. Many of these helpers may also be described as “brokers”, but their main function is not to sell you but to help you.
Per Libby Caulum, MNsure Senior Director of Public Affairs, the MNsure website has three kinds of plans for citizens: MNsure (an Affordable Care plan for people who would purchase a private health care plan), Minnesota Care (public health insurance for people who have low income and no access to affordable care), and Medical Assistance (Medicaid).
Access to healthcare in Minnesota requires some kind of health insurance plan and health insurance card.
Heffernan Carson notes that people with medical issues may also have needs beyond medical needs. She therefore supplies a link for help with food assistance, housing assistance, child care assistance, and even cash needs.
Caulum relayed that that everyone can get some kind of health insurance. Pharmacies and hospitals are included in these plans.
With all the medical alternatives, does the patient have an embarrassment of riches on this path to health assistance?
Heffernan Carson says no. Provider networks are limited. The money available is limited. There are several medical alternatives and many phone numbers and many people who can be contacted. Navigating the complexity of the medical health care in the Minnesota system requires patience, a bit of luck, and connecting with the right resources.