One of the first actions of the new Director Scott Leitz was to hire a full crew of PR hacks to improve the tone of the media coverage of MNsure. They have tried to do several propaganda pushes of blatantly fake stories as well as missed opportunities to tell actual successes.
MNsure.org PR Propaganda On Website Uptime
In the MNsure Board reports website uptime is reported many weeks as 100%. This is even though MNsure.org is closed 6 hours every day or 25%.
When I do math this means that the website is open for business 75% of the time. In Oct-December MNsure.org closed most of the weekend as well as 8 hours/day on week days. The standard for a website is 24/7, not bankers hours. The metrics should show the improvement from a horrible October to a slight improvement in March, not a phoney “100%” for almost every time period from October to March. Other ACA state websites and the Federal Healthcare.gov have no downtime scheduled everyday, so this is a deliberate fogging of IT problems MNsure.org.
MNsure.org PR Propaganda Line On MNcare Enrollment
Another fake story is the equating of MNcare (state subsidized) enrollments as “they should be counted as QHP” [private for profit ripoff insurance] enrollments because the program is not available in all other states. The population served by MNcare is up to 200% of the Federal poverty measure. There is no way people can pay for high deductible 20% profit insurance at that income level. The PR hacks should have gone for the “Big Lie” and declared the expanded Medicaid (MA) enrollments not available in the Republican controlled states should also be counted as QHP enrollments, then they would have met or exceeded the goals of MNsure QHP enrollment. They could have had another “100%” success story.
The disturbing part of the MNcare story is the plateau of enrollments and the backlog of 27,000 finished applications. It seems that MNsure is trying to drive MNcare and Medicaid applicants into the QHP markets by holding up applications instead of processing finished applications.
MNsure.org PR Propaganda Line On QHP Enrollment and March 31 Deadline
Another PR problem is the relentless concentration on getting QHP enrollment without a website or support program that makes that enrollment possible and the PR line that enrollment stops March 31st.
The reality is that the QHP market is small and consists of people who are jobless, low income, work independently or do not get health insurance as part of a job. Of the ~500K people without insurance in Minnesota over 1/2 qualify for Medicaid or MNCare. The uncertain tax subsidies are not enough inducement at the higher incomes to keep customers once they try the horrible website and compare that experience to other private markets for insurance.
The terrible website, complex rules to get a tax subsidy for QHP badly implemented at MNsure, the long backlog for finished applications, no paper application option until about January, lack of phone support and delays in training and deploying adequate navigator support mean that most of the higher income individuals in the individual insurance market have gone to private insurance brokers to buy policies. Only in the last few weeks has phone support been adequate to deal with the crappy web site. Only in the last few weeks have there been enough Navigators and Navigator marketing to assist people signing up.
Actually there is no March 31st deadline for most people. MA and MNcare have NO DEADLINE and will continue signing up citizens! It is only private insurance that will stop signing up suckers, I mean customers.
The missed success story is the larger than expected Medicaid (MA) and MNcare enrollment that is expanding in proportion of enrollments every month and is almost 72% of enrollments. This is almost Single Payer insurance and the critical mass of people signing up (300,000+?) will make Single Payer a reality as combined with VA and Medicare Single Payer will begin to control the market in Minnesota.
I expect that MA/MNcare will be 90-95% of enrollments by next October when QHP enrollment opens again and then few QHP will sign up. People without insurance usually do not have the money to buy private 20% profit ripoff insurance. In a few years as employers drop insurance benefits from more and more jobs and changes to the system take place I expect Single Payer MA/MNcare enrollments to increase as demands for Single Payer are made by the middle class.
Backlog is the Hidden Story With MNsure PR
The huge backlog of unprocessed finished applications is the story ignored by MNsure and the media even though the Legislative Auditor has repeatedly critiqued the problems of the Dept. of Human Services (DHS) past performance with its backlog in Health Services over many years. MNsure seems to be using this backlog to drive citizens into the private insurance market to get its fees as citizens eligible to get MA and MNcare get desperate to avoid tax penalties and get health coverage.
Single Payer Health Care Would Be Even Easier
Of course the most obvious improvement to health care for all is extending Medicare for all. No complex eligibility, no one left out.