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Board Meeting Offers New Look Into MNsure’s Progress

2/12/2014 10:14:43 AM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jenni Bowring-McDonough
Media Relations Coordinator
jenni.bowring-mcdonough@state.mn.us
651.539.1976

ST. PAUL, Minn. - MNsure's Board of Directors met today to hear about the organization's ongoing progress as the March 31 enrollment deadline approaches. They also heard one citizen's powerful story of how the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and the health insurance coverage she selected through MNsure, helped her escape the curse of a bogus pre-existing condition.

According to information presented by MNsure interim Chief Executive Officer Scott Leitz, the efforts underway to fix the MNsure online marketplace are starting to bear fruit. More than 92,000 Minnesotans have now successfully enrolled in new health insurance coverage through MNsure. In addition, internal analysis found that a series of software improvements implemented in the past weeks dramatically reduced the number of errors generated by the marketplace software. In October the error rate peaked at 17 percent, but this week the marketplace is operating with a 95 percent success rate.

"Today it is much easier for the average Minnesotan to use the MNsure site to find better, less expensive health insurance," Leitz said. "We need to continue our behind-the-scenes work to make sure the user experience is as good as possible, but it's great to see our efforts making a difference."

In his update to board members, Leitz also outlined the addition of 100 new call center staffers as part of his push to bring call wait times down to less than one minute. Leitz told the board that 50 new call center staff joined MNsure today, and another 50 will be on the phones by February 26.

"Our goal is to get call wait times down to the industry standard," Leitz said. "We are accomplishing that in two ways - by adding staff and by providing a better website experience so that there are fewer people needing to call for technical assistance."

The board also received a powerful reminder of what the health insurance marketplace - and the related provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act - can mean for Minnesotan citizens.

As the meeting kicked off, Minneapolis resident Sinda Nichols shared her story of how she had struggled to find affordable health insurance coverage in recent years due to a minor abnormality that showed up in one blood test but then did not show up in subsequent tests. Although the test result was transitory, it led to Nichols being flagged for having a "pre-existing condition." This made it difficult for Nichols to find reasonable health insurance coverage even though she was young and healthy. The only coverage Nichols was able to find was in a high-risk pool. It carried a monthly premium of $450 and a sky-high deductible. Through MNsure's online marketplace, Nichols was able to find a plan with a $175 monthly premium and a deductible of just $1,000.

"I was blown away by the options on the MNsure website," Nichols said. "They're much better than what you could typically buy for yourself, and they're a lot better than what I was getting from my employer."

For more information about MNsure or to shop for better, cheaper health insurance, visit the MNsure website at www.mnsure.org.

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