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Uninsured rate in Minnesota stayed flat through mid-2020

Figures from 2019 meanwhile show a rise in the number of people forgoing care.
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Despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that brought with it dramatic economic upheaval, the number of Minnesotans without health insurance stayed relatively flat through the first half of 2020.

The Minnesota Department of Health says that as of July 2020, the proportion of Minnesotans without health insurance stood at 4.6% (258,600), a slight decrease on the 4.7% (264,000) who were uninsured in 2019.

This is despite the pandemic leading to a raft of job losses in the springtime, which MDH said resulted in around 40,000 Minnesotans falling out of employer-based group insurance coverage.

But these losses were offset by 13,000 who enrolled in health plans from the individual market, and a further 46,000 who were added to Medicaid and MinnesotaCare, which comes after temporary changes were made to eligibility requirements at the state and federal level to keep more people covered as COVID-19 spread.

In a statement, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that while the news was encouraging, there remains work to be done to reduce the state's uninsured number, "especially frontline workers in the hospitality and service industries that have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19."

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There was also worrying data from 2019 released Tuesday, which shows that there was an increase in the number of people "forgoing care" due to concerns about costs, or struggling to pay medical bills.

One in four Minnesotans reported having to delay or go without care due to costs in 2019, a rise from one in five in 2017. Most of those forgoing care were those covered by work-based health plans.

While it remains to be seen what happened in 2020, it's most likely to increase significantly more given that more people are likely to have forgone care not just due to cost concerns, but also concerns over contracting COVID-19.

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