MNsure And You

Kelly Brown says she did everything she was supposed to do, and she’s more than frustrated that she nonetheless finds herself without health insurance.

The Duluth woman — married, with a 14-year-old daughter — says she knew she would no longer be eligible for Minnesota Care this year. So in November, she began trying to apply for a health insurance plan through the MNsure online marketplace. Knowing there had been glitches in the system, Brown didn’t try to do it on her own. She turned to a navigator at the Health Access Office in the Lake Superior Community Health Center.

But the navigator’s best efforts weren’t enough to make the glitches go away. Although her application originally was approved on Nov. 30 — in plenty of time for her to be insured by Jan. 1 — the system miscalculated her income, depriving her of a tax credit. Her attempts to fix that — in spite of the navigator’s help, in spite of a state official’s help later — met one roadblock after another. Calls to MNsure left her even more frustrated. She was placed on hold for hours, she says.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Brown says. “I’ve been back — they know me by name (at the Lake Superior Community Health Center). I walk in, and they say, ‘Hey, Kelly.’ ”

She missed the deadline to be insured at the beginning of January, and now it’s too late to be insured in February.

This leads me to wonder if other people in Northeastern Minnesota have had similar problems. If that describes you, I’d be interested in hearing from you. But please contact me only if you’re willing to be quoted by name.

I’m also interested in hearing from insurance brokers who have worked with MNsure. A survey released last week by DGRCommunications of St. Paul suggests some disenchantment among insurance agents.

In the survey of about 600 agents at the end of December, 53 percent said MNsure was a total or partial failure for their practices. Here’s what they said about the future of MNsure:

* 11 percent said they’re convinced it will eventually work and be a benefit to clients.

* 13 percent are hopeful it will eventually work.

* Nearly 60 percent said they don’t think it will ever work, but they’re going to keep trying.

* More than 19 percent said they’ve given up trying.

You can see the full report on the survey here.

So how about it, local agents? Happy with MNsure? Dismayed? Somewhere in the middle? I’d be interested in your thoughts — but again, please, only if you’re willing to be quoted by name.

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