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In 2007, there were about 374,000 uninsured people in Minnesota.

Rates of uninsured Minnesotans stabilize

From eNews, February 21, 2008

After rising between 2001 and 2004, the percentage of Minnesotans without health insurance stabilized between 2004 and 2007, according to the results of a new survey by the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. An estimated 7.2 percent of Minnesotans, or about 374,000 people, were uninsured in 2007, and lower-income and minority groups were especially hard hit by the disparity. National surveys, although not directly comparable to this study, show that Minnesota has the lowest rate of uninsured in the nation. "It's good to see that insurance coverage was stable between 2004 and 2007," says Sanne Magnan, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. "However, these study results remind us that we still have a lot of work in front of us to ensure access and affordability of coverage for all Minnesotans. To make sustainable progress on health care access, we will need to make changes at every level of the health care system." Overall, the 2007 survey results show stability in the sources of health insurance coverage for Minnesotans between 2004 and 2007. An estimated 4.8 million Minnesotans have health insurance through an employer, public program, or individually purchased coverage. The share of the population with coverage through an employer was 62.5 percent in 2007, compared to 62.6 percent in 2004. About 25 percent of the population in both years received coverage through a public program such as Medicare or Medicaid, and 5 percent of the population had individually purchased private insurance. Historically, Minnesota has had a high rate of employer-based health insurance coverage, but surveys in 2001 and 2004 found a drop in employer coverage from 68.0 percent of the population to 62.6 percent. "There was no further erosion in employer coverage between 2004 and 2007, and that is good news given the continued cost increases that we have seen," says Julie Sonier, director of the Health Economics Program at MDH. "However, we need to find ways to slow the growth of costs in order to maintain and improve affordability and access to coverage." There continue to be significant disparities in health insurance coverage by race and ethnicity. In 2007, the rate of uninsured for black, American Indian, and Hispanic/Latino Minnesotans (14.7 percent, 16 percent, and 19 percent, respectively) were 2.3 to 3 times higher than the rate for the white population (6.4 percent). "Although Minnesota as a whole has a lower rate of uninsurance, policymakers and citizens should be concerned about these large disparities in coverage," says associate professor Kathleen Cal, a researcher with the U's State Health Access Data Assistance Center in the School of Public Health. "Reducing these disparities will not be easy, but it must be done."

The rates of people without insurance also vary substantially by age and income. By age group, the rate is highest for young adults, with an estimated 19 percent of adults age 18 to 24 lacking coverage. Nearly 18 percent of Minnesotans with family incomes below federal poverty guidelines ($20,650 for a family of four in 2007) were uninsured, compared to about 12.6 percent for people with incomes 1 to 3 times the poverty level, and 2.2 percent for people with income more than 4 times the poverty level.

The study results are based on a telephone survey of more than 9,700 Minnesota households conducted in the last half of 2007. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish. A fact sheet summarizing the initial results of the study can be found at www.health.state.mn.us/healtheconomics. More detailed results from the survey will be published this spring and summer.