Minnesota’s uninsured rate remains high
No recovery in employer sponsored health insurance since the end of recession
The economy is recovering, but the percentage of Minnesotans without health insurance remains as high now as it did two years ago at the official end of the great recession. That’s according to findings from the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota.
In 2011, 9.1 percent of Minnesotans were without health insurance, which is unchanged from 2009. The report states that Minnesota’s insurance rate did not improve in part because employer coverage did not recover from the erosion documented in 2009.
But the 9.1 percent figure represents only the average. Minnesotans of color continue to have dramatically higher rates of uninsurance.
Kathleen Call, associate professor of health policy at the University of Minnesota, explains.
“The rate of uninsurance for the state as a whole is 9 percent, where it’s twice that for African Americans, almost twice that for American Indians and it’s 26 percent among Hispanic/Latino population in the state,” Call said. “So, that’s a significantly higher rate than is true for the state as a whole. The good news is it hasn’t been increasing. But the bad news is, that’s quite a disparity.”
Gains for young adults
On the bright side, a greater percentage of young adults had health insurance coverage in 2011 than in 2009. Call believes this is a result of state policy changes and federal health reform that extended the age under which young adults could continue to be covered by their parents’ health insurance.
“And we are seeing that they are gaining access to insurance through their parents and guardians,” she said. “So, there’s evidence that that law is actually making a difference for that age group. So, policies do work.”
More about the study findings
During the last decade, Minnesota’s uninsured rate has trended upward from 6.1 percent in 2001. Minnesota saw its uninsured rate jump from 7.2 percent in 2007 to 9 percent in 2009, largely because of the impact of an economic downturn. An estimated 490,000 Minnesotans were uninsured in 2011, compared to 480,000 Minnesotans in 2009, and 374,000 in 2007. Researchers estimate that approximately 70,000 children were without health coverage in 2011.
Coverage in public insurance programs, including Medicare and Minnesota’s state programs, such as Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, remained constant at 29.2 percent. It was 28.7 percent in 2009, compared to 25.2 percent in 2007. The share of the population that purchased individual coverage in the private market remained steady as well, at about 5 percent.