abc
QUICK LINKS:

Research: 40 Percent Drop in Minnesota's Uninsured

Updated: 06/11/2014 12:37 PM
Created: 06/11/2014 9:55 AM WDIO.com
By: STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The federal health overhaul has helped cut the ranks of uninsured people in Minnesota by about 40 percent, University of Minnesota researchers reported Wednesday in the first major assessment of the law's effect in the state.

The study estimated that the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell by 180,500 from Sept. 30 to May 1 - from about 445,000 people to about 264,500. That represents a decrease from 8 percent of the state's population to 5 percent.

"One of the major goals of the Affordable Care Act is to get close to universal health insurance. With the 40 percent reduction in the uninsured we found, there's been some rapid progress toward that goal," said lead author Julie Sonier, deputy director of the university's State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

Minnesota's health insurance exchange, MNsure, commissioned the study. Its executive director, Scott Leitz, called the findings "extremely significant" and said they show that the exchange's efforts have "really paid off."

In a sign of the Obama administration's interest, White House spokesmen Jay Carney tweeted the 40 percent reduction and a link to the study to his over 500,000 followers.

The authors said the study is the first to measure the reduction in the number of uninsured people in one state since open enrollment began on exchanges across the country last fall. They also said their findings are consistent with recent nationwide studies showing smaller declines nationwide, including a Gallup survey that showed a drop in the share of uninsured adults from 17 percent in the fourth quarter last year to 13 percent in April.

Sonier said changes in the numbers of uninsured will vary from state to state because of their policy decisions and the number of uninsured they had to start. For example, declines have been larger in states like Minnesota that have opted to both expand eligibility for their Medicaid programs and set up their own exchanges, Gallup found.

The biggest driver of Minnesota's reduction was higher enrollment in the publicly run Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs, which jumped by 155,000 people combined. Enrollment by individuals in private insurance plans showed a net gain of almost 36,000 Minnesotans. That includes policies sold through MNsure and by insurance carriers directly. The number of people enrolled in group plans, primarily through employers, held relatively steady at around 3 million with an estimated decline of about 6,000, or 0.2 percent.

Minnesota's human services commissioner, Lucinda Jesson, noted that two-thirds of the Minnesotans who were uninsured before the overhaul qualified for public programs but had not enrolled. Stepped-up outreach efforts "really mattered" in signing them up, she said, as did changes that made it easier for others to qualify for them.

The relatively steady group plan enrollment dispels fears that employers would drop coverage and force workers to get insurance elsewhere, she said.

Some important questions on how the Affordable Care Act has changed the insurance landscape in Minnesota will require further study, the authors acknowledged. Those questions include how many of the 236,745 Minnesotans who had signed up through MNsure as of Wednesday didn't have insurance before, and how many had some kind of coverage but switched to policies they bought on MNsure or found out via MNsure that they qualified for public programs.

Co-author Elizabeth Lukanen, another SHADAC researcher, said they're planning another study to address those questions and plan to release those results late this fall.

Leitz said the studies will help MNsure better understand who the remaining uninsured Minnesotans are and tailor its outreach and marketing campaigns to them.

Jesson said she'd been telling people for two years that it was possible to cut the state's uninsured by half.

"Here we've cut it by almost half, 40 percent, in eight months' time. That's truly significant. But I won't be totally happy until everybody has health insurance," she said.


___

The study is available at: http://www.shadac.org/MinnesotaCoverageReport

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Front Page

  • Parents Sentenced in Drowning Death of Toddler

    The parents of a northwestern Wisconsin toddler who drowned after wandering away from home in 2012 have been sentenced.  Thomas Williams will serve jail time followed by probation, while Jenna Danish will be on probation.

  • Powerful Business Groups Object to Wis. Road Taxes

    A coalition of powerful business groups in Wisconsin are coming out against a proposal from Gov. Scott Walker's Department of Transportation that would increase taxes and fees by more than $750 million.

  • Bentleyville Opening Weekend Draws Large Crowd

      One of the Christmas City of the North's favorite holiday traditions, the Bentleyville Tour of Lights, officially kicked off Saturday night with more than 15,000 visitors. The man behind Bentleyville, and its unofficial "mayor" Nathan Bentley says bringing the holiday light display to Bayfront Festival Park every year is about community...

  • Weekend Anchor Laurie Stribling Says Goodbye

    Weekend Anchor Laurie Stribling had her last show Sunday night. Before she left, we took a look at some of the highlights during her time in the Northland.    

  • Junior League Gives Back Through Festival of Trees

    The Junior League of Duluth helped give back to the community while also lending a hand to local small businesses this weekend. 

 

Winter Weather Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Price; Sawyer; Washburn
Expires: 11/25/2014 12:00 AM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Ashland; Bayfield; Douglas
Expires: 11/25/2014 6:00 AM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Iron
Expires: 11/25/2014 6:00 AM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

MI AREAS AFFECTED: Gogebic; Ontonagon
Expires: 11/25/2014 7:00 AM

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement