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“We knew this would be messy,” Keefer said, “and it’s not meant to point fingers. But the system as a whole is a lot clunkier than people thought.”
MNsure offers 141 health plans offered by familiar Minnesota brands such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica, PreferredOne and UCare. Some offer low deductibles but high premiums. Others offer low premiums but limited networks.
Minnesotans who tried the site on its first full day said they were aware they might experience start-up problems, but tried anyway because they were eager to get health insurance secured.
Some reported being surprised to find premiums that were more expensive than the plans they could already find in the marketplace. But experts said that is partly because the new plans are required to have richer benefits. Insurers also can no long exclude people based on prior medical history and can’t place caps on lifetime or annual benefit amounts.
‘Day of history’
Others simply wanted to be a part of the first-day launch of one of Obamacare’s signature initiatives — even though benefits purchased in the MNsure site won’t kick in until Jan. 1.
“Because of my complicated medical issues, I want to have everything dotted and ready to go,” said David Wagner, 38, of Minneapolis, who is seeking better insurance to cover treatment of his cystic fibrosis. Part-time work at a medical staffing company leaves him without workplace coverage.
“It’s also a day of history in my eyes,” he added.
After two hours on Tuesday night, Berge gave up trying to enroll under his name when MNsure demanded that he identify which California high school he attended. “I went to Southwest High School, in Minneapolis,” he exclaimed.
He successfully got by the security questions using his wife’s information, but then the system froze Wednesday morning when he started entering family tax deductions.
“The website was definitely not ready for prime time,” he said. “I wonder when it will be.”
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