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Minnesota individual exchange activity grows

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — MNsure, the state-based public health insurance exchange in Minnesota, increased individual market activity in November but posted mixed small-group market results, according to figures released for a board meeting Wednesday.

  • The number of people with new completed applications for individual insurance coverage increased to 40,132 for the period from Nov. 3 through Nov. 30, up from 31,447 for the period from Oct. 1 — when enrollment began — through Nov. 2.
  • The number of applications for commercial “qualified health plan” (QHP) coverage associated with payments due or already made grew by 2,704 in the second reporting period. MNsure ended the first reporting period with 1,774 QHP applications that were somewhere in the payment process.
  • Each Minnesota QHP application seeks coverage for an average of two or three people.
  • The number of small businesses that were setting up Small Business Health Options Program plans or had completed the set up process increased to 96 in the second reporting period, from 27 in the first reporting period.
  • The number of new SHOP accounts opened fell to 576, from 894 in the first reporting period.

The enrollment deadline for Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) coverage that starts Jan. 1 is now Dec. 23.

About three-quarters of the signups completed so far have been for Medicaid or for other public insurance plans.

MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov said that about one-third of the 4,478 QHP enrollees have made their initial payments and are completely done with the enrollment process.

Most public plan enrollees also have completely finished the signup process. But some in both the QHP and public plan groups have been delayed from paying premiums because of technological challenges.

In the QHP market, 55 percent of the consumers who have signed up for coverage have been women. The median age is 50.

Todd-Malmlov said MNsure expects younger consumers to procrastinate and to sign up closer to the Dec. 23 deadline.

“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.

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 is not now 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.

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. 

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