ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's health insurance exchange announced Wednesday that it enrolled more than 116,000 residents in private plans this year, a record number that comes amid cuts and uncertainty for health care nationwide.
Open enrollment ended Sunday, and MNsure's signups in its fifth year narrowly beat its previous high of nearly 115,000. But this year's strong figures came in an enrollment period more than two weeks shorter.
MNsure chief executive Allison O'Toole said its performance showcased the importance of the flexibility that Minnesota and the 11 other states with their own exchanges have. While the federal HealthCare.gov portal slashed budgets for advertising and outreach and ended enrollment in mid-December, Minnesota was able to extend its own signup period and continue its campaigns to encourage residents to shop for insurance.
"We've never faced stronger headwinds than we did this year," O'Toole said. "We're so happy to be serving so many Minnesotans."
It also comes on the heels of signs of concern that the state's individual market — where shoppers who don't get coverage through their employers or public programs buy insurance — was nearing collapse. Every insurer providing coverage nearly left the market in 2016, and premiums jumped by double digits in both 2015 and 2016.
The Legislature stepped in last year with a pair of costly measures meant to help control premiums and stem insurers' heavy losses. O'Toole said their registration numbers were proof that the market was stabilizing.
More than 60 percent of MNsure shoppers qualified for federal tax credits on their plans, and the exchange said the average savings was $7,000 per year.