December 28, 2014

Minnesota’s adult uninsured rate falls to lowest level yet

The Minnesota Department of Health estimates that 135,000 adults ages 18 to 64 years gained coverage between 2013 and 2014 after implementation of key Affordable Care Act provisions, including the expansion of Medical Assistance and the implementation of MNsure and health care market reforms. This represents the lowest rate of uninsured measured for this population in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s uninsured rate for adults, excluding seniors 65 and older, was 6.7 percent in September 2014, according to Health Reform Monitoring Survey – Minnesota, a Minnesota component of a national survey. This is down from an estimated 10.7 percent in 2013, based on a similar study, the Minnesota Health Access Survey.

The results released today are consistent with the June 2014 study of the early impacts of the Affordable Care Act in Minnesota which estimated a statewide uninsurance rate of 4.9 percent across all age groups, although the two studies cannot be directly compared. The study released today includes only non-elderly adults ages 18 to 64, and excludes children and those older than 65.

Minnesota’s uninsured rate for adults was lower than the national rate of about 12.4 percent found by the national Health Reform Monitoring Survey for the same time-period. While the rates were constructed using slightly different methodology, Minnesota continues to have a higher percentage of the population covered than the nation as a whole.

“We know there is a link between access to care and better health,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Reducing the ranks of the uninsured by improving access to affordable insurance is a great public health intervention. It not only helps people stay healthy but saves money by potentially preventing more serious and costly health problems.”

The Minnesota survey also found that most people (80 percent) with health insurance feel it protects them from high medical bills, regardless of whether the insurance is from an employer or another source. Nonetheless, cost at the point of care is affecting whether Minnesotans choose to seek health care services. About 900,000 or 27 percent of Minnesota adults ages 18 to 64, both with and without coverage, reported that they did not get medical care due to costs during the past year. A share of this population (37 percent) reported not seeking care because they could not afford it regardless of cost.

Stefan Gildemeister, director of the Health Economics Program, who led the study said, “These results indicate that strategies for reducing barriers to care should include reforming care delivery to reduce underlying costs. In addition, we need to raise awareness among consumers about how cost sharing affects them, including that much preventive care is covered and doesn’t involve paying out-of-pocket.”

The Health Reform Monitoring Survey – Minnesota is a Minnesota-specific component of a larger national survey, the Health Reform Monitoring Survey, conducted by the Urban Institute in partnership with GfK, a survey research firm. The Minnesota sample was designed to provide Minnesota-specific rates for adults 18-64, from a pre-selected Internet panel. The survey includes 499 Minnesotans and has a margin of error of 6.8 percent. This survey does not produce rates for the entire Minnesota population.

Results from the HRMS-MN are available online through an infographic and an issue brief with additional findings: