MNsure reaches out to minorities; drive to enroll Latino residents falters

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MNsure, Minnesota's new online health insurance marketplace, is nearly a month old, but efforts to reach minorities in the state are just getting under way, MPR News reports.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report stressed the importance of enrolling key hard-to-reach populations, noting that the effort would help determine the success of the Affordable Care Act, which launched the web-based marketplaces nationwide Oct. 1.

To illustrate a broader effort, MPR focuses on one campaign to encourage Latinos in St. Paul to enroll in MNsure. The effort is being led by the organization Southside Health Services, which is getting a small slice of the $4 million in federal grant money going to a wide array of groups that are working in neighborhoods to educate people about MNsure.

MPR reports that the group spent much of Saturday at a St. Paul beauty salon, chatting up customers about MNsure, as well as offering flu shots and screening patrons for health issues. Salon owner Karina Cardoso told MPR most of her customers are Latinos, self-employed and with no health insurance. But by the end of the day, the group had not convinced a single person to enroll for insurance on MNsure, MPR reports.

At last count last week, about 22,000 people and almost 700 small businesses had created MNsure accounts, but it's not known how many actually have bought insurance through the site; an update is expected on Nov. 6. That number was reported to be about 3,700 on Oct. 16.

MNsure enrollment is slated to continue through March. Consumers who buy insurance before mid-December will have coverage effective Jan. 1.

Officials had said that ultimately, as many as 1 million Minnesotans could be enrolled in insurance through MNsure, but revised enrollment goals for 2014 are much smaller: roughly 102,800 individuals and 13,125 small businesses, the Pioneer Press reported.

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