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Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Obamacare Credited For Big Drop In Minnesota’s Uninsured Rate

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Before the health law went into effect, about two-thirds of uninsured Minnesotans qualified for one of these two public health programs but hadn’t signed up. The federal law’s combination of a mandate to buy insurance and funding for outreach and navigators likely boosted enrollment in the two programs.

The study by SHADAC, as the organization is known, goes further than those in other states, other researchers say.

“What’s unique about this Minnesota report is it’s the first I’ve seen that really looks at what’s happening across the whole coverage spectrum.  So not just looking at what’s happening with enrollment but also pulling in what that means for the uninsured,” said Rachel Garfield, Senior Researcher at the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Still, the picture of who signed up for private insurance under the ACA in Minnesota is somewhat murkier, critics point out. State Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, questioned the report’s findings that tied a big drop in uninsured Minnesotans to the federal health care law. Officials, he said, weren’t initially asking people who were signing up for MNsure if they’d previously had coverage.

Sonier acknowledged that her organization didn’t calculate who was previously insured, but the study did get a measure of increases in the private market by asking the insurance plans themselves for enrollment numbers.

“We don’t know who came in or out during the time, whether they came from group coverage or uninsured, we are still pretty confident that overall shift that we calculated, the 180,000, is in the right ball park,” said Sonier, a former Minnesota state health economist.

The study showed that the number of people buying their own plan jumped about 12 percent, and it also suggests employers didn’t dump their health plans and force workers to buy their own.

Most Minnesotans get their insurance through work. The study found the number of people in employer-sponsored plans went down by about 6,000, a decline of two tenths of 1 percent.

Mon, Jun 16 2014

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