With about 10 days to go before the sign-up deadline, MNsure has a ways to go to reach its enrollment target for private health plans.
The state's health exchange said Friday that just under 46,000 people have signed up for private coverage through MNsure so far during the current open enrollment period.
The MNsure budget expected that 67,000 people would enroll in private plans between Nov. 15 and Feb. 15.
To pump up last-minute enrollment, MNsure says it has scheduled more than 250 outreach and sign-up events between now and the deadline. In addition, the exchange will have extended hours at its call center next week and weekend.
"February 15 is the last day to enroll in coverage for this year," said Scott Leitz, the MNsure chief executive, in a statement. "There will be no extensions, so please do not wait until the last minute to enroll."
MNsure is an option for people who buy coverage as individuals. Those consumers also have until Feb. 15 for purchasing individual insurance policies outside the exchange, directly from health insurance companies.
People can use the exchange to enroll in the state's Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs, although the Feb. 15 deadline does not apply to public health insurance applicants.
Budget targets aside, MNsure officials have claimed success in driving down the share of Minnesotans who lack health insurance to its lowest rate in state history at 5 percent. After factoring sign-ups for public insurance programs, the exchange has connected nearly 125,000 people with coverage during the current open enrollment.
Private policies have been a focus because they must cover a larger share of MNsure's budget starting this year. Critics of the exchange have questioned whether MNsure can become self-sufficient.
In early 2014, MNsure set a goal of 100,000 sign-ups in private coverage during the current open enrollment period, but trimmed the target by about a third in December. To hit the lowered target, MNsure must add about 2,100 people per day in the final 10 days, wrote Charles Gaba on his blog ACASignUps.net.
"I just don't see them pulling that off," he wrote. "Still, if they can reach, say, half of that, they'll add another 11,000 … which isn't unreasonable."
Minnesota launched the MNsure exchange to implement the federal Affordable Care Act, which requires almost all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. People who purchase by Feb. 15 can avoid the tax if they maintain coverage for the remainder of the year.
It's too soon to say whether a miss on the goal of 67,000 sign-ups would create a budget problem, said Jenni Bowring-McDonough, a MNsure spokeswoman. That's because the budget is based on projections not just for total enrollees, but also the average premium price plus total months of coverage purchased.
"It's going to become more clear after Feb. 15 has come and gone, for us to have an accurate assessment of where we are in terms of the budget," she said.
In addition, MNsure's budget plan is changing with the January announcement of another $34 million more in federal grant money for developing the exchange. Plus, the state Legislature is considering a proposal that would direct millions more to MNsure for improving its IT system by way of the state Department of Human Services.