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MNsure's failure by the numbers

When Gov. Dayton told a reporter that MNsure was working well, he couldn't have been telling the truth. This Pioneer Press article shows just how structurally unsound MNsure is financially.

The first article talked about the report given to the MNsure Board by Deloitte. Deloitte's report talked about software issues that still haven't been resolved. The Pioneer Press article deals with who signed up for health care:

As of last week, nearly a quarter-million Minnesotans had enrolled. Of those, 88 percent, 218,615 out of a total of 249,369, are receiving a public subsidy.

That leaves 30,754 Minnesotans who purchased a plan on their own via MNsure.

The ratio of subsidized to "commercial" enrollees "needs a long hard look going forward," said Julie Brunner, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans.

Unless they "ramp up significantly," she wonders if the low numbers on the commercial side will provide "the financial support that MNsure needs to have a balanced budget."

That's terrible news, especially considering this information:

The system is preparing to absorb still more public enrollees. MNsure has delayed until August a major transition of public insurance beneficiaries to the system. About 800,000 Minnesotans will be renewing their current coverage.

During the last session of the legislature, the DFL quietly included a $400,000,000 bailout for MNsure. Based on the information in the Pioneer Press's article, that initial bailout is just the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg. If this continues, the next bailout will trigger a mult-billion dollar deficit.

Scott Leitz's statement is pure spin:

Website problems and an overwhelmed call center resulted in increased traffic at health-plan call centers, Brunner said. "People who weren't willing to wait to get through the MNsure system went directly to the health plans. That was not supposed to be the design of MNsure."

Part of the problem, Leitz told us, was that the system was created on a tight timeline that didn't leave room for development of backup procedures and contingency plans in the event of problems. The objective now, he said, is to "learn from what happened" and make progress on the overall goal of getting people covered.

They haven't learned anything of importance. This is a key paragraph from Deloitte's report:

“During the assessment, 47 of the 73 sub-functions addressed were found either to be absent or not functioning as expected. Six of the 73 sub-functions could be considered for implementation post-open enrollment. The remaining 41 sub-functions need to be provided for the 2015 Open Enrollment either through changes/enhancements to the systems or through contingent means.

This is an impending disaster. MNsure hasn't fixed the website. It might've been believable that the problem was "that the system was created on a tight timeline" if MNsure had gotten its problems fixed by the second year of operations. We're fast approaching MNsure's second year of operations. It still isn't close to being fully functional.

At this pace, it isn't a stretch to wonder whether MNsure will be fixed when the next president is elected. In the not-so-distant future, Minnesotans need to ask whether the product that they're receiving is worth the money that's been spent:

A key point, however, noted by the Pioneer Press' Christopher Snowbeck: The report couldn't say exactly where the uninsured found coverage, that is, whether insurance was obtained through public programs, private insurers available through MNsure or commercial plans sold outside the health exchange.

He noted pushback from legislative Republicans, including the contention of Sen. Michelle Benson of Ham Lake that, to the extent the reduction came from people enrolling in the state's Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare insurance programs, the state "didn't need MNsure at all."

Sen. Benson's statement is both harsh and fair.

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