By Elizabeth Stawicki, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. -- A health care economist from MIT told members of a governor's task force Thursday that the federal health care law will reduce the health insurance racial disparities in Minnesota.
Jonathan Gruber presented his projections to the health insurance task force, which is charged with developing a health care exchange in Minnesota by early 2013. Gruber told the group that even though more people of color will likely obtain insurance, there will still be many who won't, especially if they're poor.
"One thing you have to think about is outreach. How are you going to go after those low-income people who get free insurance entitlements? They don't take it up now," said Gruber. "That's been a real problem and a real opportunity for Minnesota with its tradition of trying to serve those underserved groups, to really go after them and set a national model there."
Gruber predicts that one in five Minnesotans -- about 1 million people -- will obtain their health insurance through the insurance exchange by 2016.
He also says the federal health care law would save Minnesota households on average about $500 per year.
Gruber projects that almost 300,000 additional Minnesota residents would gain insurance coverage by 2016, and that those who currently buy health insurance on the individual market could pay 20 percent less in premiums after taxes.