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159,000 Minnesotans Enroll Through MNsure During the 2015 Open Enrollment Period

2/18/2015 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.-Today, MNsure announced 159,000 Minnesotans enrolled in quality, affordable health insurance coverage through the state marketplace during the 2015 open enrollment period, November 15, 2014, through February 15, 2015. This includes 60,092 qualified health plan (QHP) enrollments, 26,891 new MinnesotaCare enrollees and 72,017 new Medical Assistance enrollees. The qualified health plan total includes both individual and Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) enrollments.

These numbers are preliminary and are not yet final. MNsure hopes to have a more complete number in the coming days. In addition, MNsure enrolled 7,674 Minnesotans in a "dental-only" plan during the 2015 open enrollment period. This number is not part of the total MNsure QHP enrollment count stated above, but a 3.5 percent premium withhold from these dental-only plans will contribute to MNsure's revenue stream.

"I am very pleased with our preliminary open enrollment statistics, especially our private plan enrollment," said CEO Scott Leitz. "Last year, we enrolled fewer than 50,000 people in a qualified health plan during the six-month open enrollment period. This year, we had more than 60,000 private plan enrollments in half the time including a surge of nearly 10 percent of the overall enrollment total happening in the final weekend. A modest adjustment, if any at all, may be needed to balance the fiscal year 2015 MNsure budget. We're talking about a shortfall of less than $250,000 that is entirely manageable.

One-third of 2015 QHP enrollees are age 34 or younger. Nearly 40 percent of 2015 QHP enrollees chose a silver level plan, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota took 43 percent of the total QHP enrollment.

The increase in qualified health plan enrollments comes as the largest 2014 carrier, PreferredOne, decided not to offer plans on MNsure during the 2015 open enrollment period.

"Having the largest 2014 carrier pull out of MNsure at the last minute was a big challenge for us and, frankly, was something no other state in the country experienced," said Leitz. "Credit is certainly due to our navigator and broker partners, as well as our outreach teams who made sure PreferredOne enrollees knew about the benefits of MNsure and came back to pick a more affordable option."

Early Indications of Budget Stability

MNsure is analyzing how these 60,092 qualified health plan enrollments plus 7,674 dental-only enrollments will impact the agency's operating budget, originally drafted with a goal of 67,000 qualified health plan enrollments. Other factors that impact the budget include average premium paid and length of coverage. Early indications show MNsure's budget will remain stable and that any changes will be made within current revenues.

"Revenue from QHP enrollment is one part of the total MNsure revenue stream," said Leitz. Our financial staff worked diligently to create a budget that allowed for flexibility. I am happy to report we will not need to make major changes in this area.

Special Enrollment Period Announced for Those that Face Tax Penalty

In an effort to raise awareness and lessen the tax burden for some Minnesotans, MNsure will offer a Special Enrollment Period for individuals who are required to pay a penalty for being uninsured in 2014 as they file their 2014 tax return.

This Special Enrollment Period will begin on March 1, 2015, and end on April 30, 2015. These individuals will still be responsible for the 2014 tax penalty, but this Special Enrollment Period will help minimize 2015 tax penalties for those who enroll. Coverage would begin on April 1, May 1 or June 1, 2015, depending on timing of enrollment.

Tax Credits Save Minnesotans Even More in 2015

With an increase in qualified health plan enrollees, MNsure is expecting more Minnesotans to receive larger amounts of advanced premium tax credits, available only through MNsure. In 2014, Minnesotans saved more than $30 million on insurance premiums through these federal tax credits. That amount is expected to increase for 2015.

"The $30 million Minnesotans saved last year shows just how much Minnesotans can save on their health insurance premiums by coming through MNsure. We anticipate this number will grow in 2015, saving Minnesotans even more," said Leitz.

Online System Performed, Remained Stable

The 2015 open enrollment period was a stark contrast when compared to the previous open enrollment period. Much improved but still not yet perfect, the MNsure IT system performed in a way that allowed Minnesotans to get enrolled in the coverage they needed without lock-outs, lost applications or months of delays. There was very little unscheduled system downtime and no need to re-determine eligibility for applications that had already been given a determination of Medical Assistance, MinnesotaCare or a Qualified Health Plan.

More than a Quarter of a Million Calls, Wait Times Exceptionally Low

The MNsure Contact Center received 270,012 calls during the 2015 open enrollment period, an increase from 208,940 received during the 2014 open enrollment period. The average wait time during the 2015 open enrollment period was 3:09. During the 2014 open enrollment period, the average wait time was 33:41.

"The success of our 2015 open enrollment period is evident from the improvements we have made to IT, customer service and targeted outreach," said Leitz. "I look forward to continued improvements and working toward the goal of getting all Minnesotans covered."

Open enrollment for 2015 coverage began November 15, 2014, and ended February 15, 2015. Minnesotans eligible for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare can enroll year round. As of May 2014, 95 percent of Minnesotans have health coverage-the highest percentage in state history. The 2016 open enrollment period is tentatively scheduled to begin October 1, 2015, and end on December 15, 2015.

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