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Consultant: MNsure should consider rebuilding website from scratch

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An outside consultant called in to size up the problems with MNsure says the state's health insurance exchange should consider junking its flawed website and building a new one from the ground up.

The Associated Press reports Wednesday's report from Optum says MNsure's site is deeply flawed and needs extensive fixes, not all of which can be made by the end of March. That's the deadline by which the Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to have health insurance or face a penalty.

Optum, which is a division of UnitedHealth Group, laid out options for repairing the site over the next 12 to 24 months but said another choice would be to rebuild it from scratch, the AP reports.

As the Pioneer Press reports, the do-over option would involve hiring vendors to develop new software architecture for the site by 2016. The newspaper reports that as of Jan. 8 MNsure had paid vendors more than $25 million for the work they've put into the existing site.

The Pioneer Press notes Optum also describes MNsure's call center as inefficient, suggesting the insurance exchange more than double the number of employees and begin using one of Optum's own call centers in Orlando, Fla.

Optum's full report is available here.

The Star Tribune says the company sent 15 consultants to MNsure for an intensive study of its operations. MNsure's interim CEO, Scott Leitz, says Optum has provided a needed road map at a critical time, the newspaper reports.

According to the Pioneer Press, Optum documented more than 200 defects with MNsure's software and faulted a single vendor – IBM Curam – with 108 of them. Minnesota Public Radio says Optum found that schedules had taken precedence over quality in the testing of technology.

In spite of the website problems since it went live in October, MNsure's site has been used by 80,000 people to enroll in private or public health insurance plans, MPR says. MNsure had hoped to enroll 70,000 in private plans by April 1, but Leitz tells MPR they're only 40 percent of the way toward that goal.

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