MNsure new coverage enrollments lag due to Medicare crunch

Published 4:26 pm Saturday, November 17, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — Sign-ups on Minnesota’s state-run health insurance exchange are lagging behind last year’s pace, and state officials think the unusually busy open enrollment period for Medicare health plans is to blame.

MNsure this week reported just under 2,400 new enrollees through the first two weeks of November. That’s roughly half the 4,700 new sign-ups during the comparable period last year.

About 40 percent of all people who buy coverage through the exchange do so with help from insurance agents. But MNsure CEO Nate Clark told the Star Tribune that those brokers have been tied up helping more than 300,000 Minnesotans who are currently covered by Medicare Cost plans and must find replacement coverage for next year. He said he expects those brokers to turn their attention to MNsure clients toward the end of this month.

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“We really believe that a lot of our enrollment is being delayed,” Clark said. “A lot of our enrollment activity is driven by brokers, and our brokers are really busy working with those Cost plan subscribers and migrating them into new Medicare options.”

Adding in automatic coverage renewals for the coming year, more than 97,000 people have enrolled in private health plans through MNsure since open enrollment stared Nov. 1, Clark said. That’s about 7 percent ahead of the comparable figure last year of more than 91,000 people.

MNsure expects around 10,700 people will newly enroll in coverage for 2019 while a similar number will drop coverage over the course of the year.

More than 300,000 Minnesota seniors in Medicare Cost plans must choose new coverage for 2019 due to a change in federal law that is eliminating the popular type of coverage across 66 counties.

The deadline for enrolling via MNsure for coverage that begins Jan. 1 is Dec. 15, or Jan. 13 for people coverage starting Feb. 1.