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MNsure picking up steam as deadline approaches, outpacing federal efforts

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A national report released Wednesday shows state-run heath exchanges are leading the way for signing up consumers in need of health coverage.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the 14 states, including Minnesota, and the District of Columbia that operate their own exchange websites account for three quarters of more than 100,000 consumers who have selected health plans between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2, the Pioneer Press reported.

In Minnesota, nearly 4,300 have used MNsure to choose a plan or obtain coverage through MinnesotaCare. Minnesota Public Radio says the exchange's call center has been flooded, prompting MNsure to add more employees.

MNsure officials expect the signups to accelerate as the Dec. 15 deadline approaches for coverage that begins the first of the year.

The troubled federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, used in 36 states accounts for less than 27,000 consumers who have selected coverage.

The numbers are way below the estimated 500,000 people that the federal government thought would have enrolled via the online marketplaces by the end of October.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she's not surprised by the low numbers after the rough roll out of HealthCare.gov, which has been plagued with glitches, USA TODAY reports. The department also anticipates people waiting until closer to the federal exchange's deadline of March 31 to purchase a plan.

The feds say an estimated 7 million people are expected to health buy insurance through the marketplaces in the first year of the Affordable Care Act.

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