- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s health insurance exchange has celebrated shorter call wait times and a largely problem-free website this year, but state officials are still struggling to transfer the enrollment data that insurance companies need to enroll thousands of residents in coverage.

Representatives from the insurance companies that offer coverage on MNsure say they’ve received flawed or incomplete enrollment data from the exchange - if they’ve received it at all. With a Dec. 31 deadline fast approaching to import sign-ups into their systems for coverage effective Jan. 1, the clock is ticking to fix those issues.

“This is a significant barrier that must be addressed in the next couple of days,” Joel Ulland, a lobbyist with UCare, told MNsure’s board of directors Wednesday.

Ulland said UCare had expected full data from the first few weeks of open enrollment two weeks ago so the company could start invoicing consumers and sending out insurance cards in time for Jan. 1. Instead, the files they’ve received have been filled with errors and duplicates, making them largely unusable, he said.

That’s been the case for all four insurance plans offering coverage on the exchange, said Eileen Smith, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Council of Health Plans. Smith said insurers are handling what’s supposed to be an automatic process by hand, teasing out useful information from the enrollment files to get patients into their systems.

“The more automated we can get this, the better,” Smith said. “Right now, there’s an awful lot of work on the plans’ part to take what we have from MNsure and make it usable.”

The exchange’s decision this week to push back its enrollment deadline from Monday to Saturday for coverage effective Jan. 1 could tighten the squeeze on insurance companies, creating a shorter turnaround time to input consumer information.

Jesse Oman, an assistant commissioner with state information technology agency MN.IT, told MNsure’s board that fixing the so-called 834 files was the state’s No. 1 priority. He said he thinks his team is close to resolving the issue.

The same issue added to MNsure’s rocky debut last year. On Wednesday, members of the exchange’s board expressed disappointment that the issue hadn’t been resolved. And they put some of the blame on themselves.

“We need to make sure we’re keeping our eye on the right balls,” chairman Brian Beutner said.

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