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Reality Check: MNsure’s First Month

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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For more information about the Affordable Care Act, visit CBSMinnesota.com/ACA.

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Friday is the one-month anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, widely known as “Obamacare.”

The rollout of the federal health care website has been fraught with problems.

And while Minnesota’s health care website MNsure isn’t glitch free, it’s running much smoother than HealthCare.gov.

Minnesota’s one of 16 states and the District of Columbia that set up their own health care exchanges.

It doesn’t use the federal website, and there are some important differences. Unlike the federal site, Minnesotans can shop for coverage without setting up an account first.

And the state had more control over how its website works. It used only four contractors to build the Minnesota website, compared to the federal government, which used 55.

Most of the states using the federal website are controlled by governors and legislatures who oppose Obamacare, and would not create their own websites.

The states using the federal website experienced shutdowns, delays and mistakes.

And federal officials this week refused to tell Congress how many Americans have actually signed up.

“How do you not know how many people have enrolled?” asked an incredulous Rep. Dave Camp, (R) Michigan, at a turbulent House Ways and Means Committee hearing this week.

Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner, whose office oversees the site, repeatedly answered: “Chairman Camp, we’ll have those numbers in mid-November.”

But CBS News reports that only six people signed up on Day 1, and only 248 by the end of Day 2.

Minnesota reports 25,864 individuals and 831 employers created accounts as of Oct. 30, during what’s referred to as the “window shopping” phase.

As of Oct. 16, MNsure reports 3,769 people checked out and paid for new policies, which go into effect Jan. 1, 2014.

That includes 2,496 people who got Medicaid coverage, 867 working poor who got MNCare and 406 individuals who bought private insurance.

Minnesota Republicans dispute those numbers, saying MNsure has not signed up a single enrollee.

In a joint statement, GOP Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska) and Rep. Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley) said MNsure has not lived up to expectations.

It’s been one month since MNsure began its open enrollment period, and still not a single Minnesotan has been able to complete the enrollment process to purchase health insurance.

MNsure has been plagued by technical difficulties and was simply not ready for prime time.

Having spent more than $150 million on its creation, Minnesotans deserve better, and it’s unacceptable that these problems have yet to be resolved.

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

Pew Research: Uninsured Americans

Kaiser Family Fund

CBS News Report: Enrollments Off to Slow Start

Pew Research: Which States Have Federal Run Health Care Exchange
_____________________________

Health Care Exchanges

MnSure

HealthCare.gov

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