About 25,000 Minnesotans who used to be enrolled in MinnesotaCare will receive refunds in the coming weeks, because the automatic payments they set as members were not turned off after their accounts closed.
The state Department of Human Services (DHS) discovered that some former MinnesotaCare members were still paying their premiums online even though they were no longer enrolled in the health care program. DHS will issue about $1.8 million in refunds to approximately 24,800 people, officials said Tuesday, with most refunds totaling $250 or less.
MinnesotaCare is a state health care program for low-income residents that is funded by a tax on hospitals and health care providers. It covers Minnesotans who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Enrollees pay a maximum monthly premium of $80 and have low out-of-pocket costs.
“People who receive insurance through the state expect to trust the system and I know a small unexpected expense can have a big impact on Minnesota families,” Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said in a statement. “As commissioner, I am committed to being transparent and making things right when we fall short of these expectations.”
The agency has put in place a workaround to catch any new cases and fix errors. State officials urge those who paid their premiums online to review their online payment set-up and make any needed adjustments, including stopping their automatic payments if they are no longer enrolled or updating their case number.
DHS officials are now running monthly reports to make sure that former MinnesotaCare members are not still paying premiums.
State Sen. Jim Abeler, a Republican from Anoka who chairs the Senate human services reform committee, praised the department for coming forward with the error.
DHS has come under fire in recent months after several of its top leaders resigned without explanation and reports revealed that the department had mishandled more than $70 million in federal Medicaid funds over the past several years.
The agency also came forward Tuesday with a revised estimate of the amount it overpaid two Native American tribes for substance abuse treatment covered under Medicaid. Officials said the department overpaid the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation by about $29 million, up from the initial estimate of $25.3 million that was revealed last month.
“I see a ray of transparency coming out of the department, which I think is very welcome,” Abeler said. “I see it as extremely constructive.”
Date: October 03, 2019