The turning of the calendar was no bromide for what ails Minnesota's health insurance exchange.
The Pioneer Press reports technical problems knocked MNsure's website out of commission on Thursday and waiting times for those trying to reach the agency's call center averaged 76 minutes.
The site was down from about 11:20 a.m. until about 6:30 p.m., MPR News reports.
The online marketplace for insurance was swamped with visitors in advance of the Jan. 1 deadline for start-of-the-year coverage. But even since that deadline passed, traffic remains heavy and the Pioneer Press says more than 2,000 people had telephoned the call center by 2 p.m. Thursday.
The Star Tribune reports MNsure has more than doubled the staff at the call center to about 70 operators, but the phone system can handle no more than 300 calls at a time. Meanwhile, technicians already planned to take the website down on Saturday and Sunday to make improvements.
The Star Tribune notes that more deadlines lie ahead. Those who signed up for insurance by New Year's have until Jan. 10 to pay for their coverage. In addition, those who hope to start coverage on Feb. 1 have until the 15th of this month to apply.
KSTP says that as of Dec. 27, 53,000 Minnesotans had enrolled in coverage through MNsure and about 7,000 still needed to make their first payment by the 10th.
Health clinics are bracing for additional visits from the newly insured and some have added staff in anticipation of that.
MNsure provided answers to frequently asked questions Thursday.
For more general background on the insurance exchange and its role in the new federal health care policy, MPR has a MNsure 101 page.