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MNsure launch delayed a few hours

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The much-anticipated, at times controversial, new MNsure health care exchange debuts Tuesday, although a few hours later than initially expected.

The online marketplace designed to give uninsured Minnesotans a one-stop-shop for affordable health care insurance is expected to go live for open enrollment in the afternoon. The exact time wasn't known Monday night.

MNsure officials this morning are connecting the website to a federal information hub, and several hours of testing are needed before MNsure officially goes live, MPR reports.

“Anytime you go into a new enterprise, there are things you expect and things you deal with that are unanticipated,” Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov said, the Star Tribune reported.

In most states, the new state health insurance marketplaces, geared primarily for uninsured individuals and small businesses, were expected to be functioning by the start of the business day, the Pioneer Press reported. But MNsure is in "phenomenal shape" compared to other state-run exchanges, Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters Tuesday.

MNsure officials have been logging long hours preparing for the launch of the new exchange.

A massive advertising and marketing campaign, featuring the likeness of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, is under way to encourage people to enroll in the new exchange. MNsure weathered a spate of bad publicity in the run-up to launch, related to a data security breach, in which an employee mistakenly emailed private information about 1,600 insurance agents. State information technology specialists assured lawmakers last week that the system is state of the art and ready for launch.

MNsure officials expect as many as 1 million Minnesotans will use MNsure to obtain insurance. The new state-run website grew out of the Affordable Health Care Act, often called Obamacare, which allows states to run their own health care insurance exchanges.

The state established a toll-free call center to take consumer questions about the new exchange: 855-366-7873.

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