MNsure taps Deloitte to finish website

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 17, 2014 - 7:12 PM

Deloitte will concentrate on fixing balky website.

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MNsure hired Deloitte Consulting, which has successfully built health insurance exchanges in other states, to repair and finish its system.

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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Let the MNsure overhaul begin.

The agency overseeing the state’s health insurance exchange said Wednesday that it has hired Deloitte Consulting for a nine-month, $4.95 million contract to help fix short-term problems and establish a path for long-term sustainability.

The contract still must be approved by the federal government, but MNsure interim CEO Scott Leitz said he expects approval to come within two weeks.

Deloitte was a top contender in 2012 for the contract to build the online health exchange, whose rollout was marred by ongoing technical problems. It has built successful state-based insurance exchanges in Connecticut, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Washington.

The New York-based company also recently signed a contract with Nevada, plus a deal worth a reported $40 million to $50 million with Maryland, whose troubled insurance exchange was built using the same suite of original vendors as Minnesota.

Deloitte’s Kevin Kelly told the MNsure board of directors Wednesday that the firm will base its work in Minnesota on success it has had in other states.

“This is not a look backward, it’s a look forward,” Kelly said.

With the next round of open enrollment set to begin on Nov. 15, the pressure is on to resolve a number of key issues, including how county workers, insurance brokers and insurance carriers access the system.

MNsure has improved since its rocky start, and has signed up 185,000 people to date. But many “back end” operations that consumers don’t see still rely on time-consuming manual processes, including the important handoff between MNsure and insurance carriers. Those unresolved issues led to confusion during the enrollment process and delays for people getting their insurance cards.

Julie Brunner, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, said bringing in Deloitte is a good step.

“Nobody can go through the same experience this fall that we just came out of,” said Brunner, who urged Deloitte to work closely with the insurance companies, counties and brokers and tap into their expertise.

“Our vision of the whole thing was there’s no wrong door: If you go to a navigator, to a broker, to the county, or if you go to a health plan, everybody should be able to log into MNsure and help you enroll, because it’s the only way to get a subsidy or health plan,” Brunner said. “The way it’s been set up, the only door was MNsure — and that door had a lot of problems.”

An executive with Preferred­One, which signed up 59 percent of those who shopped for health care on MNsure, urged a return to simplicity.

“The more difficult and confusing the front end shopping experience is for MNsure consumers, the more problematic and error prone the data is that’s received by the health plans,” John Hofflander, PreferredOne’s senior vice president and chief information officer said via e-mail.

Deloitte, which was awarded the contract after a competitive bidding process among seven companies, will prepare an in-depth analysis during its first 60 days that will help MNsure officials determine what to do with its existing system.

Leitz said for now, Deloitte will work with MNsure’s existing vendors, but expects clearer direction within 30 to 60 days so the agency can make a decision about “which way we need to go next.”

The assessment will include what needs to be done for open enrollment in the fall, as well as what MNsure needs in the long run, said Steve Dahl, Deloitte’s lead client service partner in Minnesota.

At a meeting of MNsure’s board Wednesday, Deloitte officials heard firsthand some of the urgent challenges they will be up against. Social service leaders from Hennepin, Dakota, Stearns and Olmsted counties shared a list of problems with the MNsure board, as they try to transition nearly 830,000 people to MNsure who are served by public health plans through Medical Assistance and Minne­sotaCare.

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