Not only will Minnesota’s health exchange fall short of its enrollment goals, but experts expect MNsure to be at least a year away from fixing its many problems. Nearly four months since the launch, Optum, a data-services subsidiary of UnitedHealth, found that the troubled program still has a “nonexistent” management structure.
In a 26-page report, Optum highlighted major problems facing MNsure, and said that the need to make the October 1 launch deadline took “precedence over quality.” With all the problems it has experienced, an inability to meet demand, and the “large gap” in functionality, the report said there is little that can be done to fix the situation by the end of the enrollment period in March.
Chief among MNsure’s problems is that it lacks a real management framework, resulting in a lack of accountability and responsibility among those in charge. In December, MNsure’s director resigned after it was revealed she vacationed in Costa Rica for two weeks during the program’s problem-plagued launch. In its report, Optum found that “decision making is occurring via crisis mode.”
The company expected MNsure would need 12 to 24 months to address the problems, which would make it ready in time for the 2016 enrollment period. In the meantime, Optum suggested MNsure double its call-center staff to handle the mass demands, which have resulted in nearly hour-long wait times; earlier this month, the Star Tribune reported that customers waited more than two hours on average in the days leading up to the final deadline for coverage in January.
Optum also reviewed the federal government’s HealthCare.gov website and Maryland’s state-based exchange.