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MNsure offers retroactive coverage in some cases

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

ST. PAUL -- MNsure announced two new options Tuesday for select groups of consumers to purchase coverage in the coming weeks through the state’s new health insurance marketplace.

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The options are intended to help people who either struggled with technical problems while trying to buy insurance on the MNsure website in the past seven months or skipped the insurance exchange altogether and purchased policies directly from insurance companies.

For those who ran into technical problems that either delayed or prevented enrollment, MNsure now is offering a chance at retroactive coverage.

For those who bought policies directly from insurance companies, MNsure is offering the chance to re-enroll through the exchange and thereby access federal tax credits.

In either circumstance, consumers who want to take advantage of the options must contact MNsure by May 15.

“Due to potentially high call volumes, Minnesotans who are eligible for these categories are urged to report their cases immediately,” MNsure said in a statement.

In February, the federal government issued a bulletin saying that state-based health insurance marketplaces like MNsure could make such options available to consumers who struggled with “exceptional circumstances” while trying to obtain coverage for 2014.

In particular, the bulletin called on states to be flexible with consumers who struggled with technical issues while trying to establish automated eligibility and enrollment in a commercial health plan.

The federal Affordable Care Act requires almost all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty, and the open enrollment period for most to obtain private coverage ended March 31. The options announced Tuesday could be attractive to people who want to avoid the tax penalty, want to access tax credits or want retroactive coverage for a health condition, said Joe Campbell, a MNsure spokesman.

“Given the difficulties consumers experienced enrolling through MNsure, this is a fair and responsible way to continue toward our policy goal of health coverage for all Minnesotans,” said Julie Brunner, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, which is a trade group for insurers in the state.

The options don’t apply to people eligible for coverage through the Medicaid or MinnesotaCare programs, and they come with several restrictions.

For more information, call MNsure at (855) 366-7873 or go to mnsure.org and click on the link for retroactive coverage.

Agreement finalized

In other news Tuesday, MNsure announced it officially has executed a contract with Deloitte Consulting LLP to provide project management for the health exchange website. MNsure announced the deal with Deloitte earlier this month, but the agreement couldn’t be finalized prior to approval by the federal government.

With federal approval now in hand, MNsure plans to pay Deloitte $4.95 million for nine months of project management, project planning and technical assessments.

“This means Deloitte can now get to work in earnest to create a better user experience in time for 2015 open enrollment, which begins in November,” Scott Leitz, MNsure’s interim chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Problems with the MNsure website frustrated thousands of users late last year, prompting consumers to overwhelm the health exchange’s call center with questions. The situation for consumers improved prior to March 31, when the open enrollment period for coverage through MNsure closed.

But the MNsure system continues to challenge health insurance companies, insurance agents and county workers who rely on the system to connect people with coverage.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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