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Number of uninsured Minnesotans falls by 40 percent, U of M report finds

The number of Minnesotans without health insurance fell by 40.6 percent between September 30, 2013 and May 1, 2014, according to a new report prepared by State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at the University of Minnesota.

The complete report is available on the SHADAC website.

This first-of-its-kind report of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) state-level impact found that the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell by nearly 180,500 (from 445,000 to 264,500). As a result, the share of Minnesota’s population without health insurance fell from 8.2 percent to just 4.9 percent by the end of the ACA’s open enrollment period.

“Our findings are consistent with reports of early national impacts of the ACA  showing a decline in the number of uninsured and also with the experience of Massachusetts, which implemented similar reforms in 2007,” said Julie Sonier, deputy director of SHADAC, lead author on the report. “We know that the ACA’s impacts will vary by state, and our purpose in doing this analysis was to examine the impacts on Minnesota, in advance of the first state-level results from surveys, which are not expected until the end of this year at the earliest.”

The data gathered represent a snapshot of health insurance coverage in Minnesota at two different points in time: just before the MNsure open enrollment period began, and one month after it closed—to allow for processing of enrollments underway, but not completed by March 30.

Other report findings:

  • Enrollment in state insurance programs, Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, increased by 155,000.
  • Enrollment in private health insurance increased by about 30,000 people. The number of Minnesotans with private group coverage (primarily employer-sponsored coverage) was relatively stable, but declined slightly, while coverage in the private nongroup market grew both inside and outside of MNsure.
  • The majority of enrollment growth was in state insurance programs, but with an estimated two-thirds of uninsured Minnesotans eligible for public coverage, researchers note that this result is not surprising.

“It is especially encouraging to see growth in private coverage as well as public coverage,” said Elizabeth Lukanen, a senior research fellow at SHADAC and report co-author. “It’s clear now that enrollment in MNsure and public coverage has not come at the expense of other parts of the market.”

“Despite the many challenges in the implementation of health reform, these early findings show that the effort is indeed paying off for the citizens of Minnesota,” added Lynn Blewett, Ph.D., director of SHADAC, and professor in the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, Division of Health Policy & Management. ”What’s more, this straightforward method could be repeated in other states in time to inform outreach around this fall’s enrollment.”

The authors note that further research and analyses are needed to answer more questions, such as the characteristics of Minnesotans who gained or lost coverage from different sources, how many Minnesotans who purchased coverage through MNsure were previously uninsured, and the characteristics of the remaining uninsured population in Minnesota.

Data for the analysis were gathered from a variety of sources, including private health plans, MNsure, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Minnesota Health Access Survey, among others. The report was prepared at the request of MNsure, Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace.

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