Report: Only 4 percent lack health insurance in Minnesota

An improving economy and access to affordable coverage led more than 200,000 uninsured Minnesotans to get health insurance the past two years, boosting Minnesota's insured rate to an all-time high, officials said Monday.

The percentage of Minnesotans without health insurance fell to 4.3 percent in 2015, the lowest rate in state history, according to survey data released by the Minnesota Department of Health and University of Minnesota State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

Last year "marked an unprecedented advancement for the health and security of Minnesota families, particularly those who had previously been lost in the gaps of our system," Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a statement Monday releasing the survey results.

Among its findings, the survey found uninsured rates for Latino Minnesotans fell from 35 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2015. Other groups saw progress, too, although the department said there are still gaps between the insurance rates of whites and people of color in the state.

Overall, about 20 percent of Minnesotans still reported not getting needed care because of cost in the past year, a rate unchanged from 2013, the Health Department said.

The survey also found about 10 percent of Minnesotans getting their coverage through MNsure, the state health insurance exchange created as part of the federal Affordable Care Act that provides tax subsidies to many buying coverage.

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About 22 percent of those uninsured are potentially eligible for tax subsidies available only through the state exchange, MNsure CEO Allison O'Toole said in a statement.

"We do not want Minnesotans to leave money on the table and will do everything we can to make sure they are getting the coverage they need and can take advantage of the financial supports available to make it affordable," she said.

University of Minnesota School of Public Health Professor Kathleen Call said the state still needs to to increase the number of minorities with health coverage.

For example, Call said, Latinos are still three times as likely to be uninsured as white residents and big gaps remain with other minority groups as well.

"The rate for black and American Indians is also more than twice that of whites," she said.