Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Beyond frustrated with MNSure December 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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I REALLY DIDN’T THINK I would be personally impacted by all of the problems plaguing MNSure, Minnesota’s online health insurance exchange. But, oh, how wrong I was about that.

First, a little background: Since completing a MNSure application on November 25, I’ve been waiting to see if I qualify for a subsidy. I got a response in 2 ½ weeks, which is a positive. I expected the process would take longer. I’d delayed applying in hopes that the bugs would be worked out of the system.

Friday I learned that I don’t qualify for assistance, although trained assisters guiding me through the application process said I should qualify based on income guidelines.

The MNSure mailing stated that I would receive a second mailing explaining why I do not qualify. That’s efficiency.

Then, on Monday, a MNSure rep called. Due to “technical errors, calculations were incorrect” and I may, indeed, qualify for assistance or a credit, she said. Good news for me, I thought.

But then she dropped the bombshell: I would need to resubmit my application.

Are you kidding? According to one news report, I am among about 1,000 Minnesotans who will need to resubmit.

She assured me, “It’s not your fault.” The rep sounded sincerely apologetic, extremely stressed and deeply frustrated.

A screen shot of the MNsure website.

A screen shot of the MNsure website.

Her frustration did not match mine when I later went onto the MNSure website to once again begin the long, tedious process of completing my application. The first time I worked with a trained assister for 1 1/2 hours to complete the app.

Not to my great surprise, I got this message: “the mnsure system experienced an unexpected exception and cannot fulfill your request (500 http error).”

OK, then. This is the same message I’d gotten many times previously while on the website. And, yes, I am using one of the recommended browsers.

I tried again later and was able to begin working on my application. As I plowed through the questions, unsure how to respond to some (because even the MNSure rep was wishy washy when I asked for clarification), I reached a point where I needed info from my husband’s employer. So I decided to save my app and resume work the next day. Major mistake. The information I’d worked an hour to input, and then saved, simply vanished. Yup. Not there.

I phoned the MNSure rep who’d called me earlier and this time I told her I was p__d. It is not a word I use often.

Her frustration nearly matched mine.  “I don’t know how people have stuck with it this long,” she said, along with a few other things I won’t share.

Well, for now, I’m not sticking with it. I’ve already invested hours and hours of my time working on the app and gathering and reading info on the health insurance options available to me. I have no clue what to do. I’m stressed to the max by this process and do not want to think about it anymore until after Christmas.

So I’ve paid my $1,627 premium for 2 1/2 months of coverage under my existing grandfathered-in $3,000 deductible individual health insurance plan until I figure out this mess.

My premium increased $108 from $454/month to $562/month with no change in benefits, including no free preventative coverage.

I attribute the major increase in my health insurance premium to the Affordable Care Act. Yet, I was one of the lucky ones. My plan wasn’t dropped like that of others with individual policies. But I am being forced out of my policy because I can no longer afford the premium.

Despite all of this, the Affordable Care Act brings one positive for me personally. Up until now, because of a pre-existing condition, I was stuck with my existing health insurance plan. Now I can shop. But I don’t like shopping, especially for insurance.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


29 Responses to “Beyond frustrated with MNSure”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Our tax money at “work”!! Millions paid to a company to create a workable website—that doesn’t work—- to hire another to “fix-it” for another million+—-that still doesn’t work. And Minnesota claims to have a tax “surplus”………rampant mismanagement!!! but typical government practices. And there are still those who push for the govt to “provide” services (socialized/central medical coverage when it has proven (by a long track record) that the only thing they can manage is their own salary increases….which come up and automatically increase unless there is a ‘no’ vote!!!!! It is very hard to remain calm in the face of what is going on both locally and at the national level…
    Anyhow………back to the Season that is upon us……much more cheerful thoughts!!!!!!!!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    I “Liked” the post but I really don’t like it. I am so sorry that it has gone this way for you. What frustration you must have felt and still feel. I think it is something that should have been a bit more thought out and easier to maneuver than it obviously is. I wonder how people who don’t have their wits about them can manage to wade through it all.

  3. Carolyn Says:

    I haven’t had to use MNSure but was offered the same expensive/high deductible plan that I’d had for years–except BC/BS tacked on another $100/mo to the cost. I’d been paying $400/mo with a $5500/yr deductible ($11,000 actually since both my hubby and I had to get to that point to get reimbursed) and a measly $300 for preventive care. When we checked on another plan I now have one that costs $400 and pays dental, for prescriptions, preventive care, lower deductible, etc. These insurance companies are using the Affordable Care Act as a way to extort money from their customers under the guise that this legislation is causing it. I say the government needs to investigate these practices!

    • Your last two sentences really strike home with me, because I’ve wondered the same thing about the insurance companies. I phoned my insurer, BCBS, the other day and the automated voice message stated it would be a 45-minute wait. Alright then.

  4. It is extremely unfortunate that so many have had such a terrible experience. There is no worse equation than government + short deadlines + grant funds + federal regulation + technology = one crap-tacular outcome. I work in state government; I see things like this (not to this magnitude though) too frequently. For your sake and many others, I hope someone steps up/in and gets this fixed. I don’t think it will be soon either unfortunately. The disaster of this equation is compounded when you rush to fix what was already accomplished in a rush. Have the federal grant money has been expended on what you have experienced. What a shame and waste of money, time and frustration. So sorry you and many others are dealing with this.

  5. Insurance is like my part-time job lately – between the enrollment, calling medical offices to submit EOB’s (still waiting for EOB’s to be submitted by 3 medical providers from February 2013 – had to pay out of pocket because the providers were too overwhelmed to submit the paperwork – WTH?!?), and that dang HSA I want to rip my hair out some days. So I can feel your frustration as well – like Charlie Brown would say, “GOOD GRIEF, ARGHH!”. Good Luck – Wishing You the Best! Happy Thursday:)

  6. cecilia Says:

    What i find amazing is that companies have not been set up and reps come out to your house and you pay them to make it happen.. someone could make a bundle by making sense of this debacle.. or maybe the IT people can’t work it out either.. c

    • I’m not sure what you’re referencing, C. But any assistance I got was “free,” although I know the assisters are being paid something for each person they enroll, or something like that. I went to an assister only because I could not even get on the MNSure website initially on my home computer.

  7. Allan Says:

    IMPEACHMENT OF THE PRESIDENT is in order! This is the first time in American history that the Government is MAKING us buy insurance, whether we want it or not. Another FREEDOM has been taken from us. Tax time in 2014 will be the rude awakening for a lot of voters who fell for this scam!! If “HIS” plan is so good, why isn’t he and all Senators and Representatives on the same plan? I know this little note will provoke a few of your readers. Someone has to say it, and it might as well be me. I am only stating the facts. Sorry to say, but we have not seen the “REAL” ugliness of this “unaffordable” health care yet! To put the American People through this Hell as Christmas Time is ridiculous!!! Americans should be out shopping for their families for “CHRIST”mas, and planning family reunions, instead, we have to shop for insurance MANDATED by this President, so we won’t be FINED for not having insurance!!!!!!! Audrey, now I am P—-D!! However, we need to take this Blessed time and remember Christ’s Birthday, and spread our Love around. Merry Christmas to You and your Family, and all your blogging readers.

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    That just sounds horrendous, Audrey and I don’t know why these insurance companies and government departments make it so difficult for us to work with them. They say, ‘things are getting better’, but try telling that to someone who was well aware of how good things were two decades ago – everything was simpler and easier and a whole lot less painstaking. I recently had someone run up the back of my car. Her fault entirely but you wouldn’t believe what I have had to go through in order to have a few bumps taken out of my car. I ended up telling the insurance officer it would have been so much better if she’d been driving at a much higher speed so she did enough damage to write the car off. It could have been towed away and I wouldn’t be driving all over town getting the car assessed xx

    • Oh, Charlie, I am so sorry you are having to deal with insurance hassles and gathering quotes on getting your car repaired. Had she been driving at a higher rate of speed, you may have been injured (or were you?) and that would have been worse.

  9. rachaelhanel Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about this. It sounds so frustrating. Maybe it would have been easier to allow paper applications? To expect everyone to do everything online, with all the glitches, seems to just be asking for trouble. Would you have found a paper application easier?

    • It’s interesting you should mention this, Rachael, as I had thought this myself. Yes, a paper app may have been beneficial in terms of knowing exactly what info would be needed. Then, if something was unclear, I could have contacted an assister or MNSure. Also, I would not have had to deal with the frustrations of trying to use the website and then my app vanishing. When I met with assisters here in Faribault, I was told that they had worked with a small business for two hours to input info. And then, poof, the info vanished. Can you imagine that frustration?

      Also, the MNSure rep told me decisions would be based on my and my husband’s income, although I am required to report incomes from all household members. So what gives? Confusing.

      For example,

  10. Our coverage had changed too but not so badly I don’t think. Very irritating for you I can imagine.

  11. Jackie Says:

    Oh Audrey, I’m so sorry for your frustrations that shouldn’t have to be. I tell you I’d probably be sittng in a corner rocking back and forth pulling my hair out. I’m not really that up on all insurance stuff but I’ve heard enough to know that’s it’s a mess. I’m afraid for our country and our government, really afraid :/

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