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Minnesota health exchange opens with some sputters

ST. PAUL – Minnesota’s health-insurance marketplace opened Tuesday afternoon with hiccups, but a massive federal computer-based system suffered more severe symptoms for other states’ residents.

Systems in most states were running by Tuesday night, although some users continued to report issues.

“We are very happy and pleased to be open,” MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov said Tuesday night.

Todd-Malmlov pushed a few keystrokes shortly after 3 p.m. and the system went online at, at one point serving 3,000 people at once. She said that during the first few hours, 100,000 people used the MNsure website, established for Minnesotans to compare and buy health insurance.

One computer server gave MNsure problems and kicked some users offline, Todd-Malmlov said. That was quickly fixed, she said.

MNsure will be shut down from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. Otherwise, Minnesotans may go online or call (855) 366-7873 to obtain help via telephone or in person.

More than 500 Minnesotans set up MNsure accounts in the first hour the system was operational, but Todd-Malmlov could not say how many insurance policies were purchased.

“People are very happy today,” she said. “It has been a very jubilant atmosphere.”

Critics have said MNsure has not provided any assurances that public data is protected after a series of glitches in recent weeks, including a worker who mistakenly sent private information of hundreds of insurance brokers to an insurance agent.

“It has taken two years and $150 million just to get Obamacare in Minnesota off the ground, and on its first day MNsure continues to have more problems than solutions,” said state Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston.

MNsure officials said that a federal government shutdown would not affect the exchanges.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.