Study: Majority of Minnesotans say they need more information about health law

Fewer than half of all Minnesotans under age 65 are familiar with how the federal health care law will affect them in 2014, according to a state survey.

The survey by the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Department of Health found 47 percent of all non-elderly Minnesota adults felt they had enough information about the health care reform law. But only 36 percent of those who lack health insurance said they had enough information. The survey has a margin of error of about 1.4 percent.

State Health Economist Stefan Gildemeister was encouraged, however, that 62 percent of uninsured Minnesotans knew they were required to obtain insurance in 2014.

The survey found Minnesota's percentage of residents who lack health insurance remained largely the same from two years ago. The percentage without insurance dropped from 9.1 percent to 8.2 percent. Economists don't view the change as statistically significant.

More Minnesotans are declining to enroll in employer-sponsored health insurance than in previous years, according to the survey. Eighty-eight percent of individuals who were offered employer-based coverage enrolled last year, compared to 92 percent in 2009.

"We would've hoped that after a firm economic recovery that more people are connected to an employer who offers insurance and that the rate of take-ups certainly would have not declined," Gildemeister said.

For the first time, the survey also asked whether Minnesotans who had trouble paying their medical bills had health insurance. One fifth of respondents enrolled in an employer-sponsored insurance plan said they had problems paying their health care bills. Twenty-two percent of respondents who buy their own coverage said they had to forego care because they couldn't afford the cost.

The report found that overall 1 out of 3 Minnesotans experienced financial strain in the process of obtaining health care.

Researchers surveyed more than 11,000 Minnesotans by cell phone and landlines from August to November 2013.

MPR News is Reader Funded

Before you keep reading, take a moment to donate to MPR News. Your financial support ensures that factual and trusted news and context remain accessible to all.