Costs impacting care for thousands of uninsured Minnesotans

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Uninsured Minnesotans were less likely in 2011 to receive clinic and in-patient hospital care than those who have either private or public health insurance.

The Minnesota Department of Health released a report on Thursday that hints that "the uninsured consumed health care at a suboptimal level."

The Pioneer Press reports that the findings fit with what other studies have shown, and what experts say helps to establish a baseline for evaluating changes with the federal Affordable Care Act.

Uninsured people were three to six times more likely than people with coverage to say they did not get needed routine medical or specialist care due to cost, the report found.

The report says in 2011 about 490,000, or about 9.1 percent, of Minnesotans lacked health insurance. The state projects the number of people lacking health insurance to shrink by 290,000 people in 2016.

But, about 12 percent of Minnesota companies that were surveyed by a consulting firm say they are likely to drop employee health insurance within five years.

That could hit employees of small businesses hard. The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal reports the Mercer survey says nearly 31 percent of small business owners nationwide said though they were likely to drop coverage, an increase of 9 percent from last year.

The survey indicates that Minnesota businesses saw a 3.7 percent increase in their total health-benefit costs for 2013. On average, spending per-employee averaged $9,987 for the year. Mercer reports that employers held down cost increases by adjusting plans or switching insurers.

If small businesses end their coverage in Minnesota that would force more people to buy their health insurance coverage on the MNsure health care exchange. Opponents of MNsure say that is likely to cost those people more. An analysis done by the Republican party has found that insurance sold on MNsure will cost 22 percent more on average.

One of the reasons for the higher cost though is because insurers will have to provide plans with more comprehensive coverage than current policies. Plans with lower deductibles and co-pays are likely to have a higher cost of insurance premiums.

With those ricer benefits come higher prices, but many of the people who purchase insurance on the exchange will qualify for federal subsidies that could lower the cost of insurance.

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