The state's new health insurance marketplace really has one goal: to insure more Minnesotans. But MNsure isn't releasing enrollment numbers yet.
"We have information coming in, we are tracking that, but we're not going to report enrollment numbers at this time," said Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov. "We are trying to figure out how we are going to be reporting them."
The hold-up stems from unresolved questions about how to define enrollment, she said. Some people have paid for plans, others have just selected a plan.
"If they've selected a plan, that doesn't really mean they've enrolled because they can change [their mind]," she said.
And then there are lower income Minnesotans who are applying for MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance, two government programs. The MNsure website will determine if they're eligible for one of the programs, but the state will enroll them.
Todd-Malmlov said she isn't sure when the agency would release enrollment numbers, but she did confirm that some people have, in fact, purchased a health plan through MNsure.
Whatever the enrollment numbers, so far they are within MNsure's expectations, Todd-Malmlov said.
Officials at the Maryland health insurance exchange are taking a similar approach, planning to give an update on their statistics in November, a spokesperson said.
Exchange officials in Rhode Island said at least 250 people have signed up for plans on that state's exchange.
EASING SECURITY RULES
Meanwhile, Minnesotans continued to have trouble creating an account on MNsure.
It's been a problem from day one that's associated with the federal hub, a warehouse of personal information used to verify that insurance applicants in every state are who they say they are. An account is necessary to enroll in a plan.
Mike Corbin, an attorney in Medford, Minn., said it took him seven hours to create an account. He said the process had been "extremely frustrating."
Todd-Malmlov said her office has been in contact with the federal government, but she isn't sure when the problem will subside.
Still, there was more progress on Thursday, Todd-Malmlov said. Roughly 4,300 people had been able to create an account - almost double the number on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the federal government eased a rule that state officials say contributed to the difficulties establishing an account. Initially, consumers who made three unsuccessful attempts at creating an account were locked out of the system for a week. But processing delays at the overloaded federal hub were triggering the security lock-outs.
"The fed system has been so overwhelmed that people are 'timing out' and when they get timed out it's registering as a miss," said MNsure Board Chairman Brian Beutner.
Starting today, consumers can try six times to make an account and have to wait only 24 hours before being able to try again. The change is retroactive so people who initially triggered a one-week wait can try again after just one day.
MNsure's traffic has been high all week, Todd-Malmlov said, especially when it opened on Tuesday.
"People were just very interested" in the site, she said.
Volume is expected to keep up over the weekend, she added. But MNsure's call center will be closed on Sunday, and the site will be down for maintenance.