More than 500 new insurance signups in first weekend of Minn. exchange's new enrollment window

A largely problem-free weekend rollout of Minnesota's health insurance exchange netted more than 500 enrollees, its executive director said Monday.

With the memory of MNsure's long wait times and website woes from last year's launch still fresh, Scott Leitz said MNsure's website remained stable after year two of open enrollment began over the weekend. Aside from minor web browser issues, Leitz said consumers had reported no recurring or major glitches.

He called it "just a fundamentally different place."

Leitz said MNsure focused on customer service to try to counter any bad taste left in consumers' mouths from last year's rocky rollout. They beefed up call center staffing to cut down on wait times and ran website testing in the run-up to the Nov. 15 open enrollment.

And on Monday, MNsure launched a new online calculator to help consumers figure out if they qualify for federal subsidies or public programs.

More than 371,000 Minnesotans signed up for health care during MNsure's first 12 months — the vast majority of which enrolled in the public Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare programs for lower-income people.

Leitz couldn't yet compare the 518 Minnesotans who signed up this weekend to the first few days of last year's enrollment — or say how many qualified for subsidies — but said he thinks most of the enrollees selected private plans.

Leitz said he expects those numbers to ramp up as open enrollment draws to a close. Open enrollment ends Feb. 15, but consumers looking to get coverage in the new year should enroll by Dec. 15.