Deadline Nears for Minn. Health Plan Signups

Updated: 12/30/2013 6:10 PM
Created: 12/30/2013 5:34 AM
By: Leslie Dyste

Enrollment in Minnesota's new online health insurance exchange is growing as the signup deadline nears.

Scott Leitz, interim CEO of MNsure says they are making progress at improving the enrollment process, but there is still much work to be done. For weeks customers have been complaining about everything from "error messages" telling them the site was down to customer-service wait times of more than an hour.

Sunday the average customer-service wait was about ten minutes. Monday it was about 50 minutes. Leitz says the main problem is a computer glitch, and not the call center. MNsure has been working with IBM to diagnosis the problem.

MNsure reports more than 53,000 Minnesotans have chosen a plan and a payment method. That number includes private insurance as well as MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. The new number is about 14,000 more than mid-December, when the total was nearly 39,000.
Tuesday is the final day to enroll for a plan in time to have coverage when the new year starts. The deadline had been moved from Dec. 23 to accommodate consumers struggling to navigate the website.
People who sign up by Tuesday have until Jan. 10 to pay their first month's premium. Those who miss the pre-Jan. 1 enrollment deadline have until the end of March to pick a plan before facing penalties.

A board meeting took place on Monday. There are tens of thousands of people stuck in limbo in the system. MNsure said they are trying to reach out to each one of them, but might not be able to get to them all.

Leitz said they are making progress as far as improving the system, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Despite the wait times, MNsure maintains the call center is working well and the problem lies in IT.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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