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Minnesota's Uninsured Rate Climbed to 6.3 Percent in 2017February 26, 2018:
Minnesota saw a significant jump in its 2017 uninsured rate, which climbed to 6.3 percent from 4.3 percent in 2015. In all, about 349,000 Minnesota residents lacked coverage in 2017, which is about 116,000 more than in 2015. These new estimates come from the biannual Minnesota Health Access Survey (MNHA), which is administered by the Health Economics Program at the Minnesota Department of Health in conjunction with researchers from SHADAC.
Researchers point out that although uninsurance increased significantly in 2017, Minnesota’s 2017 uninsured rate is still below uninsurance levels seen in most years predating the ACA, when uninsurance in the state peaked at 9.1% (in 2011).
Declines in Employer-Sponsored and Individual Coverage Drove the Increase in Uninsurance
Minnesota’s overall coverage decrease in 2017 was driven by declines in the share of Minnesotans covered by employer-sponsored insurance, which fell from 55.9% in 2015 to 52.9% in 2017, and by declines in individual market coverage, which fell from 6.2% in 2015 to 4.4% in 2017.
The decline in employer-sponsored insurance from 2015 to 2017 was due to a drop in the share of Minnesotans who are connected to employer coverage through their own or a spouse’s job. This share fell from 77.1% in 2015 to 74.2% in 2017.
The marketplace for individually-purchased health insurance in Minnesota was subject to a great deal of volatility in 2016 and 2017, with two health plans significantly limiting their offerings; premiums increasing an average of 50 to 60 percent; and enrollment capacity limits being put into place. The report’s authors speculate that these factors contributed to enrollment declines.
In contrast to employer and individual coverage, public coverage expanded in Minnesota in 2017, growing from 33.6% in 2015 to 36.5% in 2017. This gain was not, however, enough to compensate for reductions in employer and individual coverage.
Why Did the People Lose Coverage in 2017?
The MNHA asked previously insured respondents about their reasons for losing coverage. About 32.5% of respondents reported that they lost their job that had offered coverage or their job no longer provided insurance coverage; another 18.3% reported that they were no longer eligible for their insurance but didn’t state why; and 17.5% cited cost barriers. Other reasons that accounted for a smaller share of responses included complexities involving paperwork and the perceived value of the benefit.
The report authors express concern about an increase in the state’s uninsured rate during a time of high employment and economic growth. This unprecedented trend raises questions about the stability of the state’s employer-sponsored insurance market, which currently covers just over half of all Minnesotans, down from nearly 70 percent in 2001. The authors also indicate concern about the state’s individual market, which is the primary option for individual coverage in the face of employer coverage declines. Enrollment in the individual market is down, and any policy changes that leave even fewer people in the market will make individual coverage even less affordable, and therefore less attractive, to people who are unable to enroll through an employer.
Related Content: Characteristics of the Uninsured in Minnesota
See an accompanying report to learn more about rates of uninsurance among subpopulations of Minnesotans and characteristics of the uninsured in 2017.