MNsure adds $3.2M to the tab for its website

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2014 - 6:17 AM

The state will pay Deloitte Consulting an additional $3.2 million to get the MNsure online health insurance exchange up to snuff by Nov. 15, the start of open enrollment.

The payment comes on top of a nearly $5 million contract that runs through the end of the year, and signals that the process of identifying and fixing the well-known problems with the insurance shopping site is moving into a new phase, MNsure leaders said Wednesday.

The new contract will add experts to work with the state government’s technology office, known as MN.IT, as well as the Department of Human Services to do more in-depth testing and design work.

It also will help set up a project management team to oversee and coordinate the work of various vendors, and contains a contingency fund in case additional workers are needed to troubleshoot unanticipated glitches.

“We’re really considering this to be a Phase II of the project,” CEO Scott Leitz told the MNsure board of directors during a special meeting about the Deloitte contract. “The first one really focused on assessment.”

MNsure has set aside about $10 million to address technology issues that hobbled the system during its initial open-enrollment period, plus at least another $6 million in contingency funds. Deloitte’s work is “well within budget,” Leitz said.

At the meeting, Deloitte officials briefed the board on their work to date, breaking down a priority list of 30 areas to be addressed by November. Four are considered critical to enroll consumers in new plans and renew existing policies in the private market as well as in public programs.

These “gaps in functionality” include being able to collect income data and to communicate seamlessly with insurance carriers, according to Deloitte, and must be automated. A half-dozen manual processes will remain.

Deloitte’s Brian Keane told the board that improvements in the MNsure system already have been made and that the baseline plan for resolving problems is achievable despite a compressed work period. Unlike the first open-enrollment period, MNsure will have ample contingency plans and more time for testing.

“It is aggressive,” Keane said. “There is no slip in the timeline.”

The state hired Deloitte in April to help get MNsure on track for fall enrollment and to map out a long-term plan. The New York-based company is also working with other states, including Nebraska and Maryland.

MNsure officials decided to stick with the current suite of vendors at least through the end of the year and to continue trying to improve the site, which still relies on a host of manual workarounds to get consumers enrolled in health coverage.

Nearly 274,000 people have used the MNsure website to buy insurance at last count, including about 53,000 who purchased private plans.

A state report has found that 95 percent of Minnesotans now have health insurance, the second-highest rate in the nation.
 

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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