ST. PAUL, Minn. — Enrollment for health coverage through Minnesota's insurance exchange more than doubled from its first month to its second, according to figures released Wednesday.
With the Jan. 1 start of coverage under the federal health law now less than a month away, officials at MNsure said 24,586 individual Minnesotans have completed the enrollment process. That translates to insurance coverage for an estimated 71,579 people, since many individual signups are for family plans.
The rate of sign-ups spiked from October, when 10,940 people signed up, to November, when 13,646 people signed up.
Of the nearly 25,000 signed up so far, more than three-quarters are on public insurance plans: MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance, the state's Medicaid program. The remaining signups — 4,478 — have been for private insurance.
So far, of those who signed up for private insurance, 55 percent are women and the median age is 50. Health care officials have said the federal overhaul needs large numbers of younger enrollees in order to succeed, but MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov said the agency sees younger enrollees as more likely to procrastinate and expect more to sign up in the days before the Dec. 23 deadline to get coverage immediately on Jan. 1.
"The older cohort is likely to sign up earlier because they're more motivated to be sure they have coverage in place immediately on Jan. 1," Todd-Malmlov said.
Nearly 51,000 individual MNsure accounts have been created in all, and Todd-Malmlov said the agency expects a quickening pace of enrollment as the Dec. 23 deadline looms.
MNsure has had a number of bumps and glitches in getting people signed up, and in transmitting information about enrollees to the insurance companies they've selected. Todd-Malmlov said Wednesday that due to problems with data entry, MNsure for now is not accepting paper applications. Prospective enrollees who don't have Internet access are being urged to make contact with one of the many navigator groups that are helping people sign up.
Still, Todd-Malmlov said, about a third of the 4,478 private plan enrollees have made their initial payment and are completely done with the enrollment process. Most public plan enrollees also have completely finished the signup process. But some in both groups have been delayed from paying premiums because of technological challenges.
Lucinda Jesson, the state's human services commissioner and a member of the MNsure board, said anyone who took all the necessary enrollment steps but can't close the deal because of technical glitches could nevertheless count on coverage starting Jan. 1.
"We're not going to keep anyone from coverage because of delays," Jesson said.