MNsure: Sign-ups are way ahead of last year's total

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Nearly 68,000 Minnesotans have signed up for private health care through MNsure in the first couple months of open enrollment.

That's 80 percent of the state-run health insurance exchange's goal of enrolling 83,000 Minnesotans by the end of January (the end of the open enrollment period), a news release says.

How does it compare to last year?

As of Dec. 28, 67,680 people had signed up for the private plans during the current open enrollment period. That's more than double the 28,217 of people who signed up for coverage by Jan. 1, 2015, during the previous period, the release says.

For the entire previous open enrollment period, which went until Feb. 15, 2015, 60,092 people got qualified private health coverage.

So through two months of this year, there have already been more plans purchased.

MNsure CEO Allison O'Toole called these preliminary numbers "very encouraging," noting there are more people enrolled in private plans now than there were at the end of the last enrollment period.

In addition to people who have signed up for private coverage, 15,072 people have enrolled in MinnesotaCare, 35,153 in Medical Assistance and 5,597 in a qualified dental plan since open enrollment began Nov. 1.

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. Those who tried to sign up just before the first deadline this year also faced lengthy wait times to the call center.

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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