Minnesota Obamacare Slashes Sign-Up Expectations By A Third

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Minnesota officials drastically cut their expectation for this year’s total Obamacare enrollment on Wednesday due to the exit of the state’s largest health insurer.

The state originally expected to attract 100,000 customers into private health insurance plans on the exchange by Obamacare’s second year, but exchange officials have slashed that by a third. Scott Leitz, MNsure’s CEO, said Wednesday that they’re now expecting about 67,000 enrollees by the end of the 2015 enrollment period.

The Obama administration already significantly cut its national enrollment projections last month. While the Congressional Budget Office predicted 13 million total enrollees by 2015, the Obama administration drew that estimate back to just 9 million, in a move some speculated was to lower the public’s expectations. (RELATED: Obama Administration Slashes Next Year’s Obamacare Enrollment Expectations) 

But in Minnesota, the reduction is more likely to come through. Earlier this fall, PreferredOne, which sold a majority of policies on the exchange during 2014, announced that it was dropping out of the exchange because the administrative costs were just too high. (RELATED: Minnesota’s Biggest And Cheapest Obamacare Insurer Drops Out Due To Overwhelming Costs)

PreferredOne called participating in the exchange “unsustainable” due to high costs and ongoing glitches. They’d offered the lowest premiums of any insurer on the exchange last year; this year, their plans will be available only outside of the Obamacare exchange.

Because MNsure is funded by fees on insurance policies sold on the exchange, if they don’t meet projections they’ll have to cut down on costs. Next year they’ll cut expenses by $2 million by spending less on technology fixes and the call center, Leitz told the Star Tribune, insisting that they still have a balanced budget.

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