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Call center guide Christy Williamson worked the phones on the final day for people to sign up for MNsure.

Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

Login snag prompts MNsure website to go offline

  • Article by: Jackie Crosby
  • Star Tribune
  • January 3, 2014 - 6:25 AM

 

Glitches and hitches continue to mar the MNsure website, even as the first of several enrollment deadlines for the state’s new online insurance exchange has come and gone.

The website went down Thursday about noon with a problem in the login area, MNsure spokesman John Schadl said.

Consumers found a message that said: “Application and account services are currently unavailable. We are actively working on a resolution and ask that you visit us at a later time. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

“The problem is the result of communications issues between various components of the application,” Schadl said, adding that state IT workers and MNsure’s vendors were working on “multiple paths for resolution.”

MNsure also said the site will be down this weekend. It will reopen Monday at 6 a.m.

Consumers took to social media to continue their public venting and occasionally cheer their successes.

Even though MNsure has more than doubled its staff, to about 70 operators, the phone system can handle only 300 calls at one time. Wait times at the help desk were 1 hour 2 minutes, Schadl said.

The site likely will remain busy for the next two weeks. Those needing coverage to begin at the first of the year were to have selected a plan by Dec. 31, and pay for those plans by Jan. 10.

There may also be a new crush of people hoping to enroll in a plan that offers coverage starting in February. Those consumers have until Jan. 15 to enroll and pay.

The open enrollment period ends on March 31 for those who want to avoid a penalty under the Affordable Care Act.

Steve Briggs, of Eagan, said he didn’t want to take any chances. After waiting nearly two months for his online application to move from “pending” to “approved,” he still had trouble paying his first premium online.

So he drove to downtown St. Paul and paid in person. “The cashier didn’t look completely like a ‘deer in headlights,’ ” Briggs said, “but I suspect having people pay in person is very rare. I don’t have an insurance card, but I do have a receipt!”

More than 53,000 Minnesotans have bought coverage using the MNsure site, as of last Friday. Enrollment increased sharply as the year-end deadline approached, but it still lags behind expectations. About 19,420 people had signed up for individual or family plans; 21,051 have enrolled in Medical Assistance, and 12,708 are getting coverage through MinnesotaCare.

 

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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