The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) is pleased to announce the formation of BenefitsMN, a new health benefits trust sponsored by MCN and authorized to work with insurance brokers, health insurance carriers, and other benefits services.

As an Association Health Plan, BenefitsMN combines the insurance purchasing power of nonprofits across Minnesota. By joining together, employers may reduce administrative costs through economies of scale, strengthen their bargaining position to obtain more favorable deals, and offer a wider array of insurance options to their employees.

October update: We received a great response to the second survey and census sent to MCN members. In September, MCN collected data online from 485 survey respondents; 380 of these respondents also uploaded more-detailed census data. Here are some data points from the information:

  • The survey respondents represent over 13,000 eligible employees.
  • 177 employers do not currently offer group health insurance (36.5%); this is a similar proportion to the respondents in our first survey
  • 240 employers have 1-10 employees (49.5%)
  • 171 employers have between 11-50 employees (35.3%)
  • 74 employers have over 50 employees (15.3%)

We have shared the survey and census information with Medica, our selected carrier. Medica is now reviewing the overall data to assess the underwriting risks and opportunity. We expect to have potential plan options, structure, and rates  from them by November 12. We continue to work to pull all of the pieces together to offer members health insurance benefit options for a January 1, 2019 start date. We also are working with the Department of Commerce to assure that plans for BenefitsMN meet the emerging state and federal regulatory requirements.

At the same time, we fully understand that in the next several weeks, many nonprofit employers are in the process of reviewing benefit renewal options for 2019. We urge member organizations to fully engage in that process with requisite due diligence and investigation, as always. If BenefitsMN is able to present new health plan options to nonprofit employers for consideration in mid-November, we understand that this information may arrive after some members have made their benefits decision. At that point, members would determine whether they want to join BenefitsMN and enroll employees in time for the January 1, 2019 start date.

Our working timeline for launching the BenefitsMN plan is as follows:

Summer/Fall 2018: Gather health insurance experience data from nonprofit employers.**
Fall 2018: Receive bids from prospective health insurance carriers.
Fall/Winter 2018: Share health plan details with nonprofits.
Winter 2018 through calendar year 2019: Enrollment open to eligible nonprofit employers.

To receive updates about BenefitsMN, please subscribe to MCN emails.

**We sent communications about the Association Health Plan the week after Labor Day with a survey link (interest survey #2) for our consultant, Gallagher, to securely collect employer information. Although we are no longer soliciting responses, you are welcome to submit your survey and upload your census data. Please note that to upload the census, you’ll need to save the file with a new name, and then upload that newly named file.

We are also forming an advisory committee to help inform the best possible plan and customer service options. If you have any questions or comments about this new service or want to be part of the advisory committee, we’d like to hear from you. Please contact Margie Siegel, Association Health Plan team lead, at or (651) 478-4063.



Results from the April 2018 member survey:

The tremendous response from members to our first survey confirmed that addressing health insurance costs and claims is of high interest to nonprofit employers.

We heard from 549 organizations:

  • Two-thirds of respondents currently offer health insurance to eligible employees.
  • 70 percent of respondents are highly interested in the health insurance benefit option that that MCN aims to establish (rated 8 or higher on a 1 – 10 scale of interest).
  • Of the 359 organizations that offer health insurance to eligible employees, the median size is 17 employees; almost a quarter of these nonprofits have more than 50 employees.

Of the 190 organizations that do not offer health insurance benefits, the median size is 2.5 employees; two-thirds of these nonprofits have five or fewer employees. (See below for more information from the survey.)

The survey respondents provided many thoughtful comments and questions about this potential benefit. Bearing in mind that the benefits and plan design are currently being developed, here are preliminary responses to a few of the questions that were submitted multiple times:

1. Our organization is in Greater MN – will this coverage be an option for us?

MCN is seeking to offer a benefit that works for a maximum number of nonprofits, and including all geographic regions of the state.

2. Will we be able to continue working with our current insurance broker?


3. Will other types of ancillary benefits be included in the offering?

Yes. We expect the options will include dental, vision, COBRA, short term disability and other benefits.

4. How will you ensure that our employee health data is secure?

This is a highly regulated field. We are committed to working with service providers and carriers who have successfully demonstrated their ability to comply with HIPAA and other state and federal regulations governing data security and privacy.

5. Our organization is a consortium or member support organization – other than for our employees, could this benefit be an option for individuals served by our organization?

As an association health plan (501[c][9] Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association), MCN member organizations can participate in BenefitsMN to cover their eligible employees only.

6. Our organization has fewer than five employees – will this coverage be an option for us?

The benefits and plan design are currently being developed, so the minimum number of employees isn’t known yet. MCN is seeking to offer benefits that work for a maximum number of member organizations, and finding a way to serve smaller organizations is one of several priorities.


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