MNsure enrollment picked up at year's end

Enrollment in health care policies sold on Minnesota 's online health insurance marketplace surged in the final days of 2013.

Nearly 68,000 people had picked a plan and were in the process of paying for it by Dec. 31, MNsure officials said.

Here's how the numbers break down:

• 25,860 individuals have purchased a private plan through the site
• 15,997 individuals have enrolled in MinnesotaCare
• 25,948 individuals have enrolled in Medical Assistance

As of Dec. 27, only 19,420 people had purchased coverage through the site. MNsure officials said last week that they expected to see people scramble at the last minute to obtain coverage starting on Jan. 1.

Still, MNsure Interim Chief Executive Officer Scott Leitz said he is encouraged by the upswing in enrollment. "Even amid all the challenges of the last few weeks, many thousands of Minnesotans are taking action to benefit from lower insurance premiums and better coverage terms. Our job in the weeks ahead will be to make it easier for more people to do the same."

The spike was expected, said Eileen Smith director of communications and public relations for the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, which represents the state's insurance carriers.

"I think it's human nature to wait until the end," Smith said. "And when people have had a lot of questions and concerns getting through in the system, that waiting until they had to do it isn't a surprise. And I think we will see that going forward on the upcoming deadlines as well."

MNsure aims to have roughly 130,000 people find health care coverage through the site by the end of the enrollment period, which closes on March 31. However, the website has experienced a slew of technical problems that have prevented people from singing up.

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