With smaller uninsured pool, MNsure boosts outreach

Published 3:58 pm Saturday, February 14, 2015

ST. PAUL — The smell of fresh cilantro, baked goods and noodle soup wafts over a group of nearly a dozen people, all waiting their turn for help signing up for health insurance.

This outpost — laptops stationed on fold-up tables, tucked away inside the noisy Hmong Village market in St. Paul — and others like it scattered across Minnesota are critical to the state health exchange’s efforts to get residents signed up for coverage.

With the end of year two’s open enrollment coming Sunday, it’s crunch time for MNsure. Having already picked the “low hanging fruit” of uninsured Minnesota residents in its first year, the exchange is putting in extra effort to root out the enrollments it needs to stay on a sound financial track.

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MNsure hosted more than 250 sign-up events in the last week of enrollment, including the Hmong American Partnership registration blitz in St. Paul Friday. The exchange has targeted a younger crowd with advertisements through online radio services. And it leaned on insurance agents and brokers, forking over advertising dollars in exchange for a promise that they would sign up their clients through MNsure.

“We have to work that much harder to reach people who didn’t come in during year one. Those people are really hard to find,” MNsure spokesman Joe Campbell said.