The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

September 30, 2013

MNsure won't be ready to go Tuesday morning

MINNEAPOLIS — Consumers won't be able to use Minnesota's new online marketplace for health insurance as planned Tuesday morning and will have to wait until sometime in the afternoon, the head of the state-run exchange said Monday.

April Todd-Malmlov, executive director of MNsure, said officials want to make sure the system connects properly with federal computer systems and that it's secure before it goes live for consumers. MNsure officials had been saying for months they expected consumers could start signing up at the start of the business day Tuesday. She said they weren't sure what time in the afternoon the system would be ready.

Enrollment begins Tuesday nationwide for coverage under the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. Roughly 300,000 uninsured Minnesotans are expected to buy insurance via the portal. The delay is one of several glitches in MNsure's rollout that Todd-Malmlov spoke about late Monday afternoon.

"Generally, anytime you go into a new enterprise there are things you expect and things you deal with that are a bit unanticipated," Todd-Malmlov said. "So we have always been planning to be up on October 1. We do need to do that in coordination with our federal partners, and we want to make sure that we are doing that in a planned and not-rushed way to make sure that everything is ready to go and working on Day 1."

The other problems include a list of approved outside "assisters" and "brokers" who can help people sign up that won't be complete and posted until Wednesday. She said the last phase of their required training course didn't become available until last week, and many still need to pass their background checks, so the helpers won't be able to start working with consumers until they're cleared.

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