MNsure glitches create particular problems for the poor

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Starting on Jan. 1, new eligibility requirements prompted many Minnesota counties to halt the practice of taking paper applications for Medical Assistance from low-income applicants and they began directing them to apply online through MNsure instead. The Star Tribune reported this shift has left some families with urgent health needs uncertain about their coverage.

In a story that the Business Journal termed "sobering," the Star Tribune focused on Comopsia Stanley, whose 11-year old diabetic son has seen his insulin dwindle to a single day’s supply while she frantically tries to find out if her online application for Medical Assistance through MNsure has been approved so she can refill his prescription.

Families eligible for Medical Assistance, the state's version of Medicaid, had been able to circumvent the problem-plagued website by applying the old-fashioned way on paper at local social service offices. Some advocates want them to have the option of applying for Medical Assistance on paper until the persistent problems in online exchange are resolved. Some local county workers say MNsure applications are prone to getting lost. That, combined with the crashes and long waits have left some of their clients without insurance.

Paper applications are still accepted in some counties and at the Department of Human Services office in St. Paul.

Meanwhile, the Pioneer Press reported that MNsure officials are giving refunds -- and apologies -- to customers who paid multiple times for insurance through the MNsure website. A flaw in a link on the site created the problem, which impacted fewer than 500 families, according to a spokeswoman for MNsure. The newspaper started looking into the multiple-payments scenario last week. The story said that all instances of multiple payments are being reviewed, with about 28 refunds issued so far.

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