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MNsure Contact Center Failure Brings Governor's Ire

January 10, 2014

By Kathleen Delaney,

Governor Dayton’s letter to IBM’s (News - Alert) CEO detailed over 20 problems with the MNsure site that prevented tens of thousands of Minnesotans from completing their health insurance enrollments before the end of the year. The state entered a 46 million dollar contract for a state run exchange plagued by myriad issues that were clear in October and not resolved by the end of 2013. 

Bad Data
MNSure enrollment data for many applicants is incomplete or incorrect. MNsure has failed to give complete lists of everyone who has tried to get private health insurance, thus preventing insurers from following up to complete the enrollment process and receive payment. 

Site Design Not User-Friendly 
In the MNsure system, at least 55,000 people enrolled through the website, but were stopped when presented pricing information. Another 30,000 applications were delayed because Minnesota officials found that their eligibility determinations were wrong. Another 1,000 people were denied insurance subsidies that subsequent state reviews found them to be eligible for. 

Enrollment Troubles
Around 68,000 people are in the last step of the health insurance enrollment process. IBM has reportedly had insufficient people on the help line to answer questions, address problems, and aid people in completing applications over the phone who could not complete them online. IBM’s software cannot handle paper applications, leaving state officials to do the paper-pushing they thought the MNSure site would prevent. 
The software also failed to properly handle failed enrollments. Those who tried to enroll and changed plans were permitted to withdraw their application, but the website didn’t delete the initial application. Then applicants were denied refunds because of the multiple health insurance enrollments. In other cases, insurers or state officials must sort through the multiple applications to determine what the person wanted. Around a thousand Minnesotans were contacted by the state and asked to withdraw their application and start over. 

IBM and MNsure 
IBM’s subsidiary Curam created the troubled MNsure website. The software modules to perform eligibility determinations and verify applicant information were not 90 percent complete as of December, 2013. Minnesota signed up with IBM with the expectation that the code was 90 percent done as of late 2011. The governor believes that the state would not have contracted with IBM if it had known that Curam’s software couldn’t handle the enrollment process, and he is withholding future payments until the site is fixed. 

For thousands of Minnesotans, the failed website will result in federal healthcare fines, high medical bills incurred without health insurance coverage, and higher taxes to pay for administrative work that the website was intended to prevent.

Edited by Blaise McNamee