Think you know the costs of MNsure?

Hidden MNsure Costs lead to higher property taxes

By now most Minnesotans realize the Affordable Care Act has drastically increased the cost of healthcare coverage for many people while 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 tax, borne by counties, is used to compensate for the inefficiencies and software failures of MNsure’s dysfunctional IT system.

State officials once promised that the system—officially called the Minnesota Eligibility and Technology System (METS)—would make the process of enrolling and verifying participants faster and cheaper.

Yet behind the scenes, county eligibility workers have been tearing out their hair over a malfunctioning IT system that’s never come close to living up to its billing since MNsure went online three years ago. In fact, it’s gotten worse.

The Minnesota Association of Counties estimates taxpayers spend an additional $27 million annually to work around the flawed online METS technology. This year alone, some 249 extra eligibility workers were added to county government payrolls statewide.

The number of new government employees added to county payrolls has varied widely across the state, ranging from 54 in Hennepin County to two in Pennington County. Consequently, county levies are rising across the state.

The $800,000 in increased costs to staff MNsure in Olmsted County account for about a third of a proposed 2.5 percent levy increase on the table. In Pennington County, the MNsure penalty adds up to about two percent of the tax levy—a big deal in a county with a population of 15,000.

It’s a double whammy. Many Minnesotans are not only paying more and getting less due to the Affordable Care Act’s harmful effect on the health insurance marketplace; they’re also being forced to further subsidize an online exchange that’s still dysfunctional three years after its launch.