Minnesota's health insurance exchange has again trimmed enrollment projections while continuing to plan for looming budget problems.
MNsure reduced enrollment targets this week for the second time since January. The Pioneer Press reported Thursday that new projections for commercial insurance enrollment in 2015 are about 25 percent below projections made in January.
Open enrollment under the federal health care law runs through March. MNsure interim CEO Scott Leitz said he's confident enrollment will spike that month, but the lower-than-expected private insurance enrollment is forcing MNsure officials to start looking for budget savings. As of Monday, more than 31,000 people had enrolled in commercial insurance plans through MNsure.
The new projections estimate that Minnesotans will purchase about 500,000 months of coverage through the online marketplace this year, and more than 1.1 million months of coverage next year. That's down from January estimates, when the agency expected 915,350 months of coverage this year and 1.6 million months in 2016.
The volume of private policies sold on MNsure is important because a premium tax on those policies is supposed to start funding MNsure's operating budget in 2015. That's what led to lower estimates, Leitz said.
"For the purpose of planning out a budget, it was important to err on the side of being conservative in terms of what we think enrollment is going to be," Leitz said. "The upside is if the number happens to be higher than that, our budget situation looks better."
MNsure board member Tom Forsyth, who leads a budget subcommittee, said the exchange has enough money to get through 2014 but that $2 million to $4 million in budget cuts are likely for 2015.
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press