MNsure gets more federal funding

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 24, 2013 - 9:37 PM

The grant will pay for IT needs, as well as health insurance marketing.

 

The state has received a $41 million grant from the federal government to further the ongoing implementation of its health insurance exchange site, known as MNsure.

With this latest infusion from the feds, Minnesota has received about $155 million to hire staff and vendors and build the website, MNsure officials said Thursday.

Minnesota is one of 13 states and the District of Columbia that built their own insurance exchange websites, which launched in October for consumers and small businesses to shop among a variety of health insurance plans.

It is separate from the federally run exchange, www.healthcare.gov, which has had continuing problems since its launch and on Thursday was the focus of a congressional hearing.

But the MNsure exchange has experienced its own share of problems, as people tried to create accounts and experienced long waits at call centers. Insurance companies still don’t have an accurate accounting of their new enrollees, but MNsure officials say they expect to resolve that gap in the coming weeks.

The call center remains jammed up, with wait times in the 10- to 16-minute range this week. MNsure officials said they are assessing staffing to address peak traffic times, and that as the week progressed the wait time was “trending down.”

To date, 21,795 people and 681 small businesses have created accounts. Only a portion of those have actually bought coverage using the MNsure website. Updated numbers won’t be available until Nov. 6, but at last count about 3,800 had enrolled in a plan.

MNsure officials applied for a $45 million grant in August, and said the state didn’t receive the full amount because of a reduced budget at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

The new funds will pay for additional IT needs, including maintenance costs, security training and system enhancements. They also will go to improving the call center operations as well as funding community outreach and marketing. Money also will go toward fraud prevention efforts, premium billing and audits.

 

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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