Minnesota Rates Of Uninsurance Stabilize Following Increases

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After rising between 2001 and 2004, the percentage of Minnesotans without health insurance was stable 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. The rate of uninsurance in 2007 was statistically unchanged from 2004 when it was 7.7 percent. An estimated 4.8 million Minnesotans have health insurance through an employer, public program or individual purchased coverage. National surveys, although not directly comparable to this study, show that Minnesota has the lowest uninsurance rate in the nation.

"It's good to see that insurance coverage was stable between 2004 and 2007," said Dr. 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. 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.

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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," said 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 uninsurance rates 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 low rate of uninsurance, policymakers and citizens should be concerned about these large disparities in coverage," said Kathleen Call, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "Reducing these disparities will not be easy, but it must be done."

Uninsurance rates also vary substantially by age and income. By age group, the uninsurance 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 from July through December 2007. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish. The survey results are statistically weighted so that they are representative of the state population, and estimates from 2001 and 2004 have been re-weighted for comparability with the weighting methodology used in 2007; as a result, the 2001 and 2004 estimates in this report are slightly different from previously published figures.

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