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MNsure extends enrollment deadline to Saturday; website vexes some

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MNsure call center worker Yusuf Abdi
MNsure call center worker Yusuf Abdi fields calls from customers as open enrollment began for Minnesota's health insurance exchange Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Steve Karnowski / AP file

Updated 3 p.m. | Posted 2:13 p.m.

MNsure officials say Minnesotans now have until 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 20 to enroll in a health plan through the exchange for coverage starting Jan. 1.

The enrollment period was set to close at midnight tonight.

Although calls coming into the contact center are running at a historically high rate of 1,600 per hour, MNsure officials say the system is stable, with average wait times of 20 minutes for service. They say the vast majority of users are not encountering problems. 

CEO Scott Leitz says the deadline extension is simply to provide more time to people who qualify for financial help and is not due to system issues or technical problems.

Still, some MNsure customers were expressing frustration Monday getting through to the MNsure website and call center. There have been a number of complaints on social media. 

Devie Hagen of Maple Grove told MPR News she's had a frustrating day first with a MNsure website that was malfunctioning. There was also no one to answer her telephone call.

"I was on hold for almost 90 minutes and while I was on hold I kept trying both computers again, refreshing, closing things out. (I) couldn't get in," Hagen said.

The extension to Dec. 20 does not affect those  eligible for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare, MNsure said. The deadline for Jan. 1 coverage in those programs remains Dec. 31.