How to get health insurance when you’re young(ish), poor, and single

MJ Johnson, Staff Writer

Background on MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance

The health programs Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare are government sponsored programs to give low-income individuals insurance, accessible through the marketplace MNsure.

MNsure is the only place you can apply for health insurances that are state-sponsored, meaning the state will pay part- or all-of your insurance costs. (

Open-enrollment for insurance is from the beginning of November through sometime in December, depending on the year.

For the year 2020, enrollment ended December 23, 2019. However, if you qualify for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare, OR you are a member of a Native American Tribe, you may enroll at any point during the year.

According to the MNsure website, Medical Assistance [MA] is Minnesota’s Medicaid program for people with low income. MA does not require you to pay a monthly premium. MA members have small co-pays for some services, usually $1 – $3.

MinnesotaCare is a program for Minnesotans with low incomes who do not have access to affordable health care coverage. MinnesotaCare may require you to pay a monthly premium, and it is based on your household size and income. MinnesotaCare members may have small co-pays.

How to apply

Gather this information and have it handy:

  • Social Security number (if you have one)
  • Date of birth for everyone in household (not just those applying)
  • Driver’s license, Tribal ID or other ID (if you have one)
  • For non-citizens, Green Card or other immigration documents
  • Last year’s 1040 tax form
  • Two most recent pay stubs (if applicable)
  • Documents for other sources of income (social security, unemployment, self-employment, etc., if applicable)
  • W2 form or Employer Tax ID Number (EIN) (if applicable)
  • Employer’s address and contact information (if applicable)

(Note: the application process will probably take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, I strongly recommend making time to do it in ONE sitting so it’s more straightforward)

Type: into your web browser.

1.) Click on the orange “Create Account & Apply” button.

2.) It will bring you to another browser, click “Next.”

3.) It will bring you to the privacy agreement, agree and click “Accept.”

4.) It will have you register for an account by entering your name and personal information.

Important: on this page, check the box that states “I want to complete an application for health care coverage.”

5.) It will ask you a series of “identity” questions to prove who you are.

6.) Choose a username and password.

7.) Mark these down to remember them.

When the screen tells you that you are finished, click “Sign In” to start your application.

(Note: the MNsure website sucks and if at any point it crashes while you’re in this process, wait a few hours and try again.)

8.) Find the link to “Apply for health coverage WITH financial help.”

9.) Follow the prompts on each page, it will cover the following topics:

a.) your personal details

b.) your household information

c.) household income

d.) any insurance your job provides

e.) a summary and electronic signature

If you are unsure about any of the questions, don’t stress, just answer the best you can and they will contact you if they need more information—it’s not a test & most likely they won’t.

10.) When you finish the application, your eligibility results will appear.

11.) Take a screenshot/photo of the page for your records.

There are three options from here:

a.) if you qualify for a private health insurance plan (but not MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance) and want to apply for that: enroll from that screen, DO NOT exit out,

b.) if you qualify for MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance, the screen will tell you,

c.) if you qualify for MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance, the Department of Human Services will contact you via phone, email or snail mail to set up a plan with you in the near future.