16,000 people still without health insurance due to error with MNsure processing

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MINNEAPOLIS — About 16,000 Minnesotans who sought medical assistance through MNsure still aren't covered due to errors in processing their applications, the Department of Human Services said.

The Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/1lBPqXo ) there were problems with the affected customers' applications, but that letters were never sent to notify them of those problems and requesting information, such as verification of income, citizenship, or tribal membership.

"It was a serious error on our part of not being more on top of understanding that process, and having the oversight in place," said DHS Deputy Commissioner Chuck Johnson.

DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson told at county human services officials of the problem in an email Wednesday. Letters to Minnesotans still without insurance are expected to go out by mid-July, and the state will work with insurers to guarantee coverage back to the date of a customer's application.

Jesson also asked county workers to "redouble their efforts, as soon as possible" to contact Minnesotans in need.

More than 149,000 low-income Minnesotans have used MNsure to apply for medical assistance.

The lack of letters sent was a known issue in January, but late last week that problem was not resolved and many people still did not know that their applications were incomplete.

The process was supposed to be fully automated, but it still relies on manual workarounds.

Consultants from Deloitte Consulting LLP recently told the board that governs Minnesota's health insurance exchange that the system's reliance on manual workarounds, and a lack of oversight and project management, were key ongoing issues.

MNsure officials decided last month to work on improving the system for this fall's open enrollment period before deciding whether it should be saved or scrapped altogether. An upgrade to the system this month is expected to fully automate the process.

Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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