MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In a spacious new office overlooking Seventh Street in Downtown St. Paul, help is just a phone call away.
This is where Minnesotans with interest in purchasing health care coverage through MNsure call-in with their questions. A few calls come in now, but once Oct. 1 comes, the call center is expected to be a busy place, with potential customers “kicking some tires.”
“I think we’re going to have a lot of lookers,” MNsure’s chief operating officer Eric Larson said.
Larson anticipated the “getting to know” period to extend well into November before people start purchasing plans toward the start of 2014.
“Insurance is not a simple thing to understand, so what we’ve tried to do is provide the tools that people can really understand and compare,” Larson said.
It’s something that Portico Healthnet has been doing for nearly 20 years. The St. Paul-based nonprofit finds health coverage for uninsured Minnesotans. And the head of the nonprofit says it’s a time-consuming process.
“Three to six months,” Portico president Debra Holmgren said. “And we’re thinking with MNSure it will be quite a bit faster.”
Holmgren said that means Portico be able to serve many more people than before.
As with any new program, especially an online program, there will be a learning curve. But back at MnSURE, Larson said they’ve made the website as simple as possible to navigate.
“It’s very similar to TurboTax,” he said. “It really guides you step-by-step.”
That is where the call center comes into play, to assist those who will be signing up.
But what about privacy and security? MNSure made headlines after an employee mistakenly made public sensitive information about more than 1,600 insurance brokers.
Larson says that was an isolated incident, and had nothing to do with the computer system that will be used to sign people up to MNSure.
“People should feel comfortable that they can come to the website and shop around, and apply securely.”
For more information on the Affordable Care Act, click here.