MNsure applicants in last stage double in November

The number of people who are in the final stages of applying for health insurance through the state's new online insurance marketplace, has more than doubled since the beginning of November according to figures released today by MNsure.

Roughly 24,600 people are in the process of paying for a plan. That's up from nearly 11,000 in early November.

Minnesota residents have created more than 50,000 accounts on MNsure, which are necessary to apply for coverage.

Most of the people pursuing an application for coverage are eligible for government-sponsored health plans. About 14,400 are enrolling in Medical Assistance, Minnesota's version of Medicaid, and another 5,700 are enrolling in MinnesotaCare.

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About 4,400 people are buying a commercial health plan sold on MNsure.

MNsure also has provided the age breakdown of people applying for private sector plans, known as qualified health plans. MNsure wants to attract younger, healthier people who incur relatively low health care costs to offset the higher expense for older and less healthy people buying insurance through the exchange.

The latest report indicates that slightly more than half the people enrolling in qualified health plans are age 50 or younger. Males represent 45 percent of enrollees, females 55 percent.

Here's how the numbers break down:

• Under 21: 12.7 percent
• 21-30: 10.1 percent
• 31-40: 12.8 percent
• 41-50: 15 percent
• 51-60: 26.6 percent
• 61+: 22.8 percent

The federal health care law divides health plans to be sold on health insurance exchanges such as MNsure into four categories, which named after metals: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum -- the more precious the metal, the more generous the plan on average -- and the higher the premiums. For MNsure applicants, the most popular plans are silver, 33.4 percent; platinum, 33.3 percent; bronze, 18.5 percent; gold, 14.4 percent; catastrophic, 0.4 percent.

More details about the enrollment figures can be found here.

MNsure also announced that is has awarded $833,000 in a second round of outreach grants to a dozen organizations working with hard-to-reach populations -- people who lack insurance and racial and ethnic groups that typically have lower levels of health insurance.

The grants are in addition to $3.91 million MNsure previously distributed to 29 support organizations. After the first round of grants, community groups roundly criticized the agency for neglecting organizations that serve primarily communities of color.

Some of the organizations whose leaders complained, including the Minneapolis Urban League and the Stairstep Foundation, are included in the second round of grants. The funding also includes $125,000 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota.

The complete list can be found here.