Association Health Plan

BenefitsMN logo

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) is pleased to announce the formation of BenefitsMN, a 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.

A survey sent to MCN members in September 2018 produced the following results:

  • 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 April 2018 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 follow up census information with Medica, our selected carrier. Medica is a nonprofit corporation, based in Minnesota, and focused on their mission to be the ‘trusted health plan of choice.’ They bring industry experience, a focus on customer service, and a network of strong provider partnerships. Medica continues to review the complete dataset to assess the underwriting risks and opportunity. We also are working with the Department of Commerce to assure that plans for BenefitsMN meet the emerging state and federal regulatory requirements.

While we had hoped to begin enrollment in BenefitsMN plans by mid-2019, that time frame will not be possible due to the complexities of the health care insurance system. We have put most of the necessary pieces in place for a January 1, 2020 launch date, matching the most common annual renewal date for health insurance.

We are aware that some nonprofit employers have 2019 enrollment decisions before January. We encourage these organizations to proceed with available health insurance plan options.

MCN remains committed to ensuring that our plans include the ten Essential Health Benefits as defined by the Affordable Care Act, and that we offer plans that work for member organizations with two or more eligible employees, and in all parts of Minnesota.

Check out the information we shared at the March 11, 2019 Human Resources Roundtable Networking Lunch regarding the latest updates and enrollment objectives for BenefitsMN.

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

Spring 2018: Interest survey sent to member organizations
August 2018: First trustee meeting
Fall 2018: Survey #2 and census information sent to nonprofit organizations**
Fall 2018: Advisory Committee small group meetings
Fall 2018: Medica secured as insurance carrier
Fall 2018: Plan and network selection, including dental options
Mid-December 2018: Solidify plan and networks with Medica
Winter 2019: Dept of Commerce initial meeting
Spring 2019: MCN establishes administrative framework for BenefitsMN
April - August 2019: Department of Commerce reviews and approves proposed plan structures
Fall 2019: Organizations receive plan and rate information
October 1 – December 15, 2019: Member enrollment occurs
Ongoing 2019: Comprehensive plan information shared with MCN member organizations interested in joining BenefitsMN
January 1, 2020:  Benefits renewal date for most MCN members 
2020: Begin exploring ancillary benefit options (vision, life)

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

If you have any questions or comments about BenefitsMN, 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.

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.