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Report: MNSure’s online system flawed, needs work

ST. PAUL -- MNsure’s online system for managing people’s health coverage needs a lot of work before November, when the next big wave of people trying to buy coverage through the health exchange begins.

Deloitte, a consultant hired by MNsure to guide fixes, reviewed 73 portions of the website and found that only 26 areas were working as expected, according to a report presented to the MNsure board of directors on Wednesday in St. Paul.

Of those website functions that are absent or aren’t working as expected, the report identifies 16 to be fixed by Nov. 15, when open enrollment for 2015 coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange begins.

Scott Leitz, the MNsure chief executive officer, told the board that MNsure’s staff is working with Deloitte and vendors to get the job done.

“I don’t think anybody’s kidding themselves there are some challenges ahead,” Leitz said. “We’re going to continue to work … so that the site is easier to work with, more efficient and more effective for consumers the second time around.”

Minnesota launched the MNsure health exchange last year to implement the federal Affordable Care Act, which requires almost all Americans have coverage or pay a tax penalty.

Problems with the MNsure system frustrated thousands of consumers trying to obtain coverage late last year, resulting in hour-long waits for people calling the health exchange for help. MNsure boosted staffing and made improvements to its system, but it remains far from perfect, and the Deloitte report found.

Last week, state officials said they are delaying the transition of 800,000 people currently enrolled in Medicaid and MinnesotaCare into the new system, until MNsure can implement fixes.

MNsure hired Deloitte in April to offer guidance on how to fix the troubled website, paying the New York-based consultant $4.95 million. The company has been credited with launching more successful health exchange websites in other states.

Minnesota has received more than $150 million from the federal government to launch MNsure.

Deloitte’s report identifies the three most critical absent pieces: The system can’t acknowledge changes in enrollee circumstances; people in the Medicaid and MinnesotaCare public insurance programs can’t renew coverage through MNsure; and people who’ve bought commercial insurance can’t renew their policies through the system either.

The problem with making changes in enrollee circumstances is known as “life events.” The system needs to recognize, for example, when a woman with coverage has a baby that now needs insurance, or when someone gets married.

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