Health exchange passes, but will it be ready?

The Minnesota Senate passed legislation Monday for a state-run health insurance exchange program, sending the bill to Governor Mark Dayton, who will likely sign it.

The state has been working on the new system, which includes a web-site that will let individuals and small businesses shop for lower priced health insurance plans. The plan is supposed to be up and running by Oct. 1.

Well, that remains to be seen. The idea of the state government setting up a program, especially one that will have to tie in with a federal program, seems sure to be more complicated and more expensive than the best laid plans of legislators will allow.

Look at the slow implementation of the electronic pulltab system that is supposed to fund the state’s portion of the Minnesota Vikings stadium. Over 2,000 e-pulltab machines were supposed to be in place, pulling in money by now. Only a couple hundred are in place, and the daily take of the new machines is nowhere near the rosy estimates. The state’s revenue is so lackluster that now electronic bingo is being considered to bolster the stadium fund.

We suspect it will take quite a while longer than October to get the health exchange system set up, to get the technology to work properly, and to get enough people willing to shop on it.

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