Fewer Minnesotans lack health insurance; rate falls under 6 percent

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Minnesotans without health insurance are getting more scarce.

Data released by the Census Bureau on Wednesday show 5.9 percent of the state's residents had no insurance last year. That's down from 8.2 percent the year before.

The Star Tribune says it's a record low for Minnesota.

Nationwide, the percentage of uninsured dropped from 13 down to 10. Minnesota has the fifth lowest rate among the states, the Census Bureau says. The uninsured rates range from 3.3 percent in Massachusetts to 19.1 percent in Texas.

The rise in coverage came as the Affordable Care Act imposed tax penalties on Americans who are not insured and as state and federal governments developed online insurance exchanges to help consumers find coverage.

State Demographer Susan Brower tells MPR News dropping from more than eight percent to less than six percent means the number of uninsured Minnesotans fell about 123,000 in a year. Brower says wider insurance coverage means residents are potentially healthier and costs are being spread over a larger pool of people.

While insurance exchanges may have helped reduce the number of uninsured Americans, there have also been a host of problems with them.

In Minnesota, Republican critics have pushed for the dismantling of MNsure, but for now the state will wait to hear from a panel that will make recommendations about the program's future.

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