MNsure deadline day: Long wait times, an IL storm, now a call for more time

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Minnesotans trying to sign up for health coverage through MNsure Monday – with a deadline looming – faced lengthy wait times to the call center.

In order to have health insurance kick in Jan. 1, 2016, MNsure customers had to get signed up before the end of that day.

MNsure tweeted about the issues that afternoon.

On Tuesday, MNsure said part of the problem came from an ice storm in Illinois – it kept dozens of call center workers from getting to their job, the Star Tribune reports.

And that led to trouble for Minnesotans. MPR reports state Rep. Greg Davids is calling for an extension for those affected, saying in part, "These people made a good faith effort to get on and get coverage. Let's help them out."

This summer, Davids (from Preston) was one of the Republican legislators leading calls to scrap MNsure.

MNsure, in a statement to KSTP, said there's always high demand when a deadline approaches, adding they're "actively looking for solutions" by bringing in more people and warning consumers well ahead of time.

Originally, the deadline for Jan. 1 coverage was back on Dec. 15 – but earlier this month MNsure extended it through Dec. 28.

“It is in the best interest of all Minnesotans to enroll as soon as possible,” CEO Allison O’Toole said at the time.

The latest figures, updated on Dec. 8, show 17,678 people had signed up for qualified private health plans from Nov. 1 through that date. About 40,000 had signed up for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare, insurance options for lower-income Minnesotans.

This is the third year of enrollments for the state-run health insurance exchange, created under 2012’s Affordable Care Act.

The first year was plagued by technical glitches and a busy call center, though things went more smoothly in year two.

If you don’t have health insurance coverage (and you're not one of the few exempt), you’re facing a fine. In 2016, it’ll be either 2.5 percent of certain taxable income, or a flat $695 – whichever one is greater.

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