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8,000 get false notice of health care cancellation

  • Associated Press
  • July 28, 2014 - 5:40 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. — More than 8,000 low-income Minnesotans received erroneous notices that their health coverage would be temporarily canceled if they don't pay up.

A July 17 notice warned MinnesotaCare subscribers that they faced a four-month coverage lockout if they failed to renew their policy through the state's new health insurance exchange by month's end. The Department of Human Services said their automated reminders drew on part of an old law that locked out subscribers whose coverage lapsed.

That penalty no longer exists. Those who miss the July 31 deadline can restart their policy at the beginning of the following month.

"We sincerely apologize for this error and for causing any confusion among MinnesotaCare clients about their eligibility for coverage," Deputy Commissioner Chuck Johnson said in a press release announcing the error on Monday. "We want our clients to know that their coverage remains in place if they renew through MNsure by July 31, and we are moving quickly to prevent this from happening again."

MinnesotaCare is a state-subsidized health care plan for adults who make too much to enroll in Medicaid but can't afford insurance on their own.

The error was caused as the department shifted MinnesotaCare subscribers into MNsure's system, part of the state's efforts to enact the federal health care overhaul. The department said its own system — not MNsure — caused the problem.

The department will send revised notifications to the 8,765 affected subscribers.

© 2014 Star Tribune