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MNsure Triage as Website and Call Center Crash

Thousands of Minnesotans already traumatized by up to 67 percent increases in individual health premiums experienced another shock today. The MNsure state health insurance exchange and help center intermittently crashed at the worst possible time, the start of the new enrollment season on November 1. News accounts report that a deluge of robocalls apparently flooded MNsure phone lines, but it's far from clear what's caused the technical problems that have dredged up bad memories of the disastrous launching of the state health insurance exchange three years ago. The breakdown is under investigation. The website at the state’s health insurance exchange opened for business at...

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Could Be Worse! Minnesota Has Only 4th Highest Obamacare Rate Hike

Steep Affordable Care Act premium hikes and declining options through the MNsure state health insurance exchange have made headlines for days. Rate increases of 50 to 67 percent on the individual market forced a panicked Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to recently admit "the reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for an increasing number of people." But there's always a silver lining. As the Pioneer Press points out, residents of a handful of other states have even worse premium increases to deal with. Minnesota’s 59 percent premium increases on its individual health insurance market have been shocking consumers and...

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Star Tribune’s health care “realities” need their own dose of reality

The Star Tribunal Editorial Board recently tried to clear up a few "misunderstood health-care realities" about Minnesota’s troubled individual insurance market. Their editorial took subtle aim at countering criticisms of President Obama's health care law and the role Minnesota Democrats' have played in its disastrous roll out. All in all, they misfire and the realities they’re pushing need their own dose of reality. The editorial lists the following "realities" readers should know. MNsure is not a health plan or provider. It’s the individual health-insurance market, not MNsure, that’s in crisis. The state’s old high-risk pool was not health-care nirvana. By pointing out MNsure is not...

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Higher Property Taxes? Blame Hidden MNsure Costs

By now most Minnesotans realize the Affordable Care Act has drastically increased the cost of healthcare coverage for many, while at the same time decreasing coverage choices. Governor Mark Dayton has confirmed the worsening prognosis with his admission that "the reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people." What’s not widely known is that taxpayers are also being gouged for millions of dollars a year on their property tax bills because of ongoing problems with MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange. This hidden cost is borne by counties to compensate for the inefficiencies and software failures...

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To Save or Not to Save METS: That’s the Real Question for Counties

Three years after a disastrous launch, the MNsure state health care exchange’s IT system (METS) remains so dysfunctional that county officials still struggling to implement it openly question whether the system should be scrapped. “The whole operability of the public program side is a complete, unmitigated disaster,” said Dakota County Commissioner Mary Liz Holberg. “After a while you just get numb,” said Pennington County Commissioner Darryl Tveitbakk. “…The administration of it has been a disaster.” “It's been three years of incremental improvements, temporary fixes and manual work-arounds for public healthcare programs,” Hennepin County Board Chair Jan Callison told Gov. Mark Dayton in a...

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Minnesotans once again face steep increases in insurance premiums due to federal health care law

Back in June, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota announced it was pulling out of Minnesota’s individual insurance market due to heavy losses.  As a result, 103,000 policy holders will lose their policies and must now shop for a new plan. Those shoppers and everyone else looking to purchase individual health insurance will be facing a steep hike in their premiums next year.  As the Star Tribune reports, the federal government yesterday revealed preliminary rates “with proposed jumps for thousands of people averaging anywhere from 36 percent to 67 percent.” Those reported numbers are averages.  My own brief investigation into insurance filings...

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Democrats’ health care law responsible for the turmoil besetting Minnesota’s individual insurance market

The Star Tribune editorial board continues to think ideological blinders are still in fashion.  That’s my main takeaway from their recent editorial on Minnesota’s individual insurance market. The editorial highlights the urgent need to fix a “colossal problem” with Minnesota’s individual insurance market. Colossal, indeed. Since the moment Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations were fully implemented in 2014, Minnesota’s individual insurance market has been under constant assault and, on its current trajectory, will implode sooner than any ACA critics, myself included, predicted. As editorialists, they could not help but call out someone for being responsible for this mess. Who were the lucky recipients...

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More MNSure Fallout: 103,000 Minnesotans cannot keep that plan they liked after all

According to MPR, “Minnesota's largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has decided to stop selling health plans to individuals and families in Minnesota starting next year. The insurer explained extraordinary financial losses drove the decision.” This means that 103,000 Minnesotans who bought a policy in what is called “the individual market” cannot keep those policies in 2017. They will have to look elsewhere. About 20,000 of those Minnesotans bought their plan on MNsure, most with the help of tax subsidies, but the vast majority bought their plans in the rapidly declining individual market through a broker. In the...

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MNsure errors in determining eligibility cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars

Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor found that over a five-month period the state overpaid between $115 and $271 million in Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare benefits due to MNsure’s failure to ensure people met the programs’ eligibility requirements. The audit sampled 157 people and found that 38 percent of them were not eligible for the program MNsure enrolled them in.  Of those sampled, 28 percent weren’t eligible for any program at all. The price for this error rate is not limited to the five months the audit covered.  Assuming the eligibility errors remain unresolved, the overpayment becomes a loss ranging from $276 to $650 million...

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2014 Health Care Savings Date Back to when Republicans Controlled the Minnesota Legislature

The Star Tribune reports Minnesota spent $1.2 billion less than projected on public health care programs in 2014.  Lower spending is, of course, great news for Minnesota’s budget.  Lower spending on Medicaid and MinnesotaCare is even better news for the future sustainability of state spending because health care traditionally grows faster than any other area of spending. In addition to reporting on savings, the article offered a good overview of the current and future issues facing the state’s public health care programs. So how did the state achieve $1.2 billion in lower spending? The Star Tribune focused on two recent developments in Medicaid...

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