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MNsure extends sign-up deadline to Dec. 31

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ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans buying insurance online through the state's new Web site have more time to purchase health insurance.

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New MNsure Chief Executive Officer Scott Leitz said today that the new deadline will be Dec. 31, which will give insurance buyers a chance to get policies the day before they become effective.

Monday was the old deadline, but numerous issues with the MNsure computer system and the agency's call center have made it difficult for customers to buy insurance that would take effect on Jan. 1.

Leitz, who made the announcement on Minnesota Public Radio, said people buying insurance through New Year's Eve must pay for the insurance by Jan. 10.

He said MNsure worked closely with the private companies that provide insurance policies to allow more time to sign up.

Minnesotans signing up late will not have insurance cards if they go to health-care providers such as doctors and pharmacies early in January.

"We want to make sure doctors and hospitals are aware of this," Leitz said. "We will be reaching out to them."

The MNsure board on Wednesday voted to encourage its staff to work with insurance companies and the Human Service Department to extend the deadline.

MNsure also is looking at how to help Minnesotans who have not been able to get the Web site to work for them.

"We are actively reaching out to people stuck in the process," Leitz said.

Leitz was named interim chief of the agency during a hastily called Tuesday night MNsure board meeting in which Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov resigned in light of numerous technical problems and criticism of a two-week Costa Rican vacation she took last month while MNsure faced a building number of problems.

MNsure was created earlier this year in response to a federal health care law popularly known as Obamacare. It set up a mostly online way for Minnesotans to buy private health insurance. Recipients of Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare government-subsidized health care must use MNsure to obtain coverage.

Most insurance is sold online, but Minnesotans may get assistance filling out paperwork. Some paper applications are accepted.

On Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton apologized for the MNsure problems and indicated he has been deeply involved with the organization, especially after problems began to mount.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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