Weather Forecast


Free community sessions in Pine River and Brainerd offered on MNsure

To help lakes area residents enroll in MNsure, Essentia Health is partnering with Northern Pines Mental Health Center, Tri- County Community Action (TCC), and Pine River-Backus Family Center to offer three free community enrollment sessions in January.

These sessions are being held prior to next registration deadline cut-off for coverage to begin in February.

MNsure is Minnesota’s insurance exchange. The online marketplace was established as part of the federal Affordable Care Act. Essentia Health reported similar community sessions held in December helped more than 100 residents walk through the online registration process and get answers to their questions.

Participants may receive help enrolling in MNsure by trained staff from Essentia Health, Northern Pines Mental Health Center, TCC, and Pine River-Backus Family Center who will be available at these community events. To complete the online application process, people need the Social Security number, last year’s personal income tax form, and date of birth for anyone who will be applying for coverage, including children. To register for a free 60-minute appointment, call Essentia Health at 218-828-7414.

Events are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday at the Pine River-Backus Family Center, 245 Barclay Ave., Pine River, and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center, 523 N Third St., Brainerd.

Five financial aid counselors with Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center and Clinics have been trained and certified as MNsure application counselors. They will be working alongside MNsure navigators from Northern Pines Mental Health Center, TCC, and Pine River-Backus Family Center to help applicants through the enrollment process, so people can decide what plan is best for them and their family. They can also help determine if they meet requirements for tax credits or for other programs such as Minnesota’s Medical Assistance or Minnesota Care.

Open enrollment for non-government programs for both individuals and families continues through March 31. Registrations completed by the 15th day of each month will begin coverage the following month. So those registered by Jan. 15 will receive coverage beginning in February.

MNsure is open to any Minnesota resident or family who is uninsured, self-employed (a sole proprietor without full-time employees) or whose employer does not offer health insurance. If you currently receive insurance through your employer, you can stay with your employer’s plan or you can see if there’s a plan through MNsure that fits you better. If your employer offers what is defined as an “affordable” plan, you won’t qualify for any payment assistance or tax credits through MNsure.

Starting in January, the Affordable Care Act requires most adults age 18 and older to have health insurance or pay a fine. Those covered by Medicaid, MinnesotaCare, Medicare or an employer’s plan, meet the requirement.

People may also make an appointment with Essentia Health’s financial aid counselors by calling 218-454-5905. For more information, go to

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889