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    Shaky Web Site Frustrates Insurance Helpers


    – Elana Gordon, WHYY

    MINNESOTA TAKES A BREAK: MNsure, the agency that runs Minnesota’s online insurance marketplace, will take the website offline for about 48 hours starting at midnight Tuesday to perform site maintenance. It is scheduled to come back up on Thursday morning. The contact center will remain open.

    The troubled exchange had braced for high volume Monday and procrastinators didn’t disappoint them, as the call center fielded a record 16,000 calls.

    The website slowed, but it did not buckle as it did Dec. 31, the last big deadline for enrolling in coverage. On that day, frustrated Minnesotan overwhelmed the call center.

    But Monday’s rush showed that the MNsure website has improved.

    “We’ve added additional capacity for the surge to the site to ensure that people are able to get in and that the system itself can handle additional volume,” interim CEO Scott Leitz said. “Beyond that, we’re monitoring by the minute the stability of the site and where things are at.”

    Following an independent consultant’s advice, MNsure also added 100 representatives to its call center.

    Counties have a separate access point to MNsure called a worker portal, which they use to review applications to government programs such as Medical Assistance.

    Linda Bixby, economic support division manager for Washington County Community Services, said county workers still can’t make the most basic changes to a person’s case. For example, they cannot change an address or close a case for someone who has found a job that provides health insurance. “I personally have serious concerns about the functionality,” she said.

    MNsure officials say there are still hundreds of people stuck in insurance limbo, whose cases are deemed “pending.”

    One of them is Susan Leem of St. Paul, a married mother of two, whose current insurance expires on Tuesday. On March 6, when she first applied, the MNsure site said her husband qualified for MinnesotaCare, a plan for “residents who do not have access to affordable health care coverage.” The site said she and the children qualified for Medical Assistance, the state’s Medicaid program, but Leem doubts that because of her income. She needs coverage to begin Tuesday, but her case is still pending.

    Tue, Apr 1 2014

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