Minnesota: Impressive! MNsure breaks final OE3 target: 85.4K QHPs

MNsure, the Minnesota ACA exchange, is the first one to report their final, official 2016 Open Enrollment numbers, and they have much to be proud of:

85,390 Minnesotans Enroll in Private Coverage Through MNsure During the 2016 Open Enrollment Period

Enrollment goal exceeded, Minnesota leads the nation in new enrollees

February 01, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Today, MNsure announced 85,390 Minnesotans enrolled private health insurance coverage through the state exchange during the 2016 open enrollment period, November 1, 2015, through January 31, 2016. MNsure's goal was to enroll 83,000 in private coverage.

In addition, 33,333 Minnesotans newly enrolled in MinnesotaCare and 73,173 newly enrolled in Medical Assistance. MNsure also enrolled 7,144 Minnesotans in a dental-only plan. These numbers are preliminary and are not yet final.

"Medical Assistance" is Minnesota's name for Medicaid; MinnesotaCare is the Basic Health Plan program allowed for under the ACA, although the Minnesota version fo the program was actually already in place prior to the ACA passing. BHP enrollees would otherwise have mostly qualified for "official" Qualified Health Plans, which is a big part of the reason why MNsure struggled to hit their target QHP numbers in the first two years, since they're effectively "cannibalized" by MinnesotaCare. This makes the fact that MNsure managed to break 85K QHPs all the more impressive, since over 33K who would otherwise have been eligible went on MNCare instead.

They managed to bump up their total QHP number by 13.9% in the final two weeks (from 75K on 1/15 to 85.4K on 1/31). For comparison sake, HC.gov adding 13.8% would have meant adding over 1.2 million people since Week 11's 8.84M (or 1.1 million since Week 12) for a total of around 10.06 million cumulative. This is certainly possible, but HHS hasn't spoken yet...

"We spent a lot of time this open enrollment telling Minnesotans about the benefits of MNsure and how it is the only place to save money on their monthly premiums," said CEO Allison O'Toole. "Today's numbers speak for themselves. Minnesotans received that message loud and clear. To put this in context, we have enrolled about 23,000 more Minnesotans into private health insurance coverage this year over last year. I consider that a success." 

Forty-five percent of MNsure's private plan enrollees are new to the exchange for 2016, the highest percentage nationwide. Early analysis also shows that more Minnesotans than ever before are now qualifying for advanced premium tax credits.

"We all know health insurance premiums increased this year, with some Minnesotans seeing significant increases," said O'Toole. "However, I am always grateful to hear stories from our navigator and broker partners about Minnesotans saving hundreds of dollars every month because of financial assistance available through MNsure."

$50 Million Saved in 2015, More Expected this Year

With an increase in qualified health plan enrollees, MNsure is expecting more Minnesotans to receive larger amounts of advanced premium tax credits, available only through MNsure. In 2015, Minnesotans saved nearly $50 million on insurance premiums through these federal tax credits. That amount is expected to increase for 2016.

"For months we have been saying we do not want Minnesotans to leave money on the table," said O'Toole. "There is real money to be saved out there through MNsure, and we are glad so many Minnesotans took advantage of that opportunity."

Statewide Assister Network Big Reason for Enrollment Increase

Nearly 2,000 MNsure certified navigators and brokers are located all across the state, and these partners are a big reason why MNsure saw an increase in private plan enrollment. These partners organized more than 2,000 enrollment events, reaching nearly 300,000 Minnesotans with MNsure education and enrollment information.

"We could not do this work without our partners in the field," said O'Toole. "These organizations know how to best reach out to members of their communities. We rely on them for their expertise and their commitment to getting all Minnesotans enrolled in health insurance coverage."

Increased Call Volume, Low Wait Times

Early reports show the MNsure Contact Center received 275,060 calls during the 2016 open enrollment period, an increase from 212,785 calls during the 2015 open enrollment period. More than 90 percent of calls to the MNsure Contact Center were answered in five minutes or less.

"Contact center metrics are always of interest because they are an easy barometer of activity," said O'Toole. "For the second year in a row we have increased our call volume while keeping our wait times relatively low."

The 2016 open enrollment period began November 1, 2015, and ended on January 31, 2016. Small group employers and Minnesotans eligible for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare can enroll year round. As of May 2014, 95 percent of Minnesotans have health coverage—the highest percentage in state history.