The number of uninsured people in Minnesota has plunged to the lowest level in state history, following Obamacare’s six month open enrollment period that allowed people to sign up for new health plans, according to a new analysis from University of Minnesota researchers.
About 180,500 Minnesotans gained health insurance between last September and this May. Most of those people accessed their new coverage by either signing up for Medicaid or purchasing a private plan on Obamacare’s new marketplace, the two major policies involved in the health reform law’s coverage expansion. Now, a full 95 percent of the state population is insured.
“A change in the uninsurance rate like this is pretty much unprecedented in Minnesota,” Julie Sonier, a researcher at the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) and a co-author of the new report, told the Star Tribune.
The only state that now has a lower uninsurance rate than Minnesota is Massachusetts, which enacted its own state-level health reform in 2007. Massachusetts’ law served as somewhat of a model for Obamacare.
“It really confirms the wisdom of the Affordable Care Act,” Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said in response to the news. “People who have been knocking this the whole time really now need to look at the facts. This has been tremendously successful and it’s going to get better.”
The new report on Minnesota’s uninsurance rate is the first state-level data of its kind to attempt to assess the immediate impact of the Affordable Care Act. The results fall in line with previous national surveys that have attempted to extrapolate the potential impact of health reform; last month, Gallup found that the national uninsurance rate plunged to a record low after Obamacare’s open enrollment period.
In Minnesota, about two-thirds of uninsured residents qualified for public health programs but hadn’t signed up. Getting the word out about Obamacare during its highly publicized enrollment period helped educate more people about their health care options.
Unsurprisingly, the uninsurance rate is falling the fastest in states like Minnesota that have embraced the tenets of health care reform — including setting up their own state-run marketplaces and expanding their Medicaid programs. Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled states that have refused to do anything to work toward implementation have left their residents confused about how the law could actually benefit them. And the Republican leaders that continue to resist Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion are leaving millions of impoverished Americans without any access to affordable insurance whatsoever.