MNsure, health insurance companies extend enrollment deadline

MNsure and Minnesota health insurance companies announced on Saturday an extension of open enrollment for 2016 health plans.

The joint announcement means Minnesotans now have until Dec. 28 to comply with the federal mandate that nearly all Americans have coverage Jan. 1 or pay a penalty. The deadline had been Dec. 15.

MNsure CEO Allison O'Toole is underscoring that federal tax subsidies to reduce the cost of premiums are available only through MNsure.

O'Toole says so far this enrollment period about seven out of 10 people who purchase private plans are qualifying for tax credits to help them pay monthly premiums that have risen at double digit rates.

O'Toole also says shoppers who anticipate using the call center will save time by shopping sooner than later.

"Our average wait time is about two minutes. That is creeping up a little bit. As our volume creeps up our wait times will increase a little bit, too," she said.

O'Toole said MNsure will be adding call center staff and extending hours between now and Dec. 28.

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