MNsure shut down this weekend, still plagued by problems

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The MNsure website is closed for scheduled maintenance this weekend after going dark for several hours on Thursday, according to the Star Tribune.

On Friday, MNsure said 67,805 Minnesotans enrolled in a health plan by the Dec. 31 deadline, including 14,600 who signed up during a rush in the last four days of December.

MPR News reports that tech workers will take down MNsure's ability to create accounts this weekend. Nor will consumers be able to shop for plans.

Information about deadlines and procedures is still available on the MNsure website.

Insurance companies, Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care offices and providers have been flooded with calls from consumers unsure whether they're covered and by whom.

The MNsure Facebook page is blazing with outraged anecdotes of hours spent on hold with no outcome, even as MNsure tries to reassure visitors to the page that problems are being fixed.

Michelle Lipp-Nelson's Facebook sentiment is typical.

Hate it. I wish there were negative stars. Been trying since October to get insurance. Website is non-functional, phones are worse and staff still doesn't know what is going on when you do get through after 8 hours of waiting. They tell you to try again next week. They now have cashed my check but I don't have confirmation of coverage so I can't cancel my other insurance. They even sent me an email saying I am running out of time to pick a plan AFTER they have cashed my check for the plan I picked!

The Star Tribune reports on details of an angry letter Gov. Mark Dayton sent to IBM Corp. officials three weeks ago. He blames the company for the problems consumers have had enrolling and picking plans.

The five-page letter cited 21 specific problems and demanded the company "“immediately deploy whatever people or resources are needed to correct the defects in your product that are preventing Minnesotans from obtaining health insurance through MNsure.”

Now dozens of IBM workers are in St. Paul trying to fix the problems at no additional cost to the state.

While the deadline for enrolling in coverage effective Jan.1 has come and gone, there are several important dates ahead.

People who enrolled in a commercial health plan by Dec. 31 have until the close of business Friday, Jan. 10 to get payment to MNsure for coverage after Jan. 1. The payment deadline for coverage starting in February is Jan. 15.

Under the Affordable Care Act, uninsured people have until March 31 to secure coverage and avoid a tax penalty.

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