Liens for health insurance rile Pine County residents

A Pine County farmer’s plight shows the value of reading the fine print when signing up for health insurance under Minnesota’s version of Medicaid, known as Medical Assistance.

Scott Killerud, of Willow River, signed up for health insurance through MNsure, and found out his income qualified him for Medical Assistance, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

They’ve found out since then that the state has placed liens on their estate to pay for it.

Rick and Rose Rayburn, also of Pine County, found the same thing, the paper says. They had $30,000 in liens from the state before pulling out of the program.

In late 2013, Rose Rayburn signed up for MNsure with help from Yvonne Skelton, an insurance broker with — and now the owner of — Davidson Insurance in Moose Lake. There was no paperwork, just a computer screen, said Rick Rayburn, who doesn’t have a computer at home. The only thing that arrived later, he said, was a notice saying they were enrolled in Medical Assistance.

“I don’t expect an estate lien because I’m trying to get insurance,” he said.

Skelton, who no longer handles applications through MNsure, said she had been left in the dark about the process. The MNsure training, she said, covered things she already knew as a broker.

“We were being tested on, ‘Do you know what a deductible is? Do you know what a co-payment is,’ ” she said. “I thought this was just kind of a joke.”

The estate claim provision, Skelton said, “should have been a bright, bold piece of paper you have to sign that you’re agreeing to it.”

Rayburn says had he known his estate would be running a tab, he wouldn’t have accepted the health insurance.

Meanwhile, Killerud, who doesn’t like debt, tried to write a check last week for the $11,000 in claims, but a state official said there’s no mechanism for taking the money until a person dies.

A MNsure spokesperson told the News Tribune none of this should surprise anyone.

“The possibility of the state making a claim of repayment is included in both the paper and online versions of the MNsure application as MNsure is the single front door for all of Minnesota’s health insurance programs,” Shane Delaney wrote in an email. “Applicants must agree that they understand this specific provision before submitting their application.”

But the Gelles, Rayburns and Killeruds say they never saw such information, nor were they informed of it.

“It’s a trap, basically,” Julie Gelle said. “They didn’t disclose anything up front.”