MNsure to expand hours of website service

2:49 PM, Nov 13, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -MNsure, the state's insurance exchange website, will soon be more accessible for Minnesota residents.

Officials said that an expansion could happen over the next several weeks, which would coincide with both businesses and individuals in the state who will be looking more closely at their health insurance options for 2014.

On Monday, KARE 11 reported on MNsure's website business hours which don't include access on weekends or holidays.

Comments on KARE's website and Facebook page Monday rolled in after the story. One Facebook fan wrote that our report "provides absolutely no 'reason' for the closure."

KARE 11 talked with MNsure's COO Erik Larson on Tuesday and asked him why the website is not always available, his answer was two-fold.

"Obviously, there's some critical federal services that we need in order to determine what programs people are eligible for," explained Larson.

Although MNsure is operated at the state level, information like income, a social security number and a person's number of dependents all come from a federal hub.

MNsure uses that hub as part of its verification process to ensure the identity of the resident which also determines what coverage you're qualified for.

Since the hub was down over the holiday weekend, it caused MNsure to close as well.

Additionally, during down hours, there's still plenty of maintenance and work to be done on the website, Larson said.

"I like to think of it as a starter kit. We deployed a starter kit, made it available to the public and we're just going to keep building on that starter kit," said Larson.

Rather than shut the site down periodically without warning, the regularly scheduled down times allow for changes to be made. Admittedly, it's not ideal, but for now it is necessary until the site is fully operational all day, every day.

"We're going to look at expanding the hours of operation," Larson said.

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