Relative to other states, Minnesota has high quality and high value health care, but more Minnesotans are losing access and costs continue to rise at an unsustainable rate. Many employers are dropping coverage, and our public systems are strained by increased need.
The rank of Minnesota’s uninsured grew significantly in the last decade, reaching 10.2% in 2010. Minnesota had the third lowest rate of uninsurance in the country, behind Massachusetts (5%) and Hawaii (8%). Nationally, 17% of the population is uninsured. Unfortunately, the share of uninsured children in Minnesota saw the fastest increase in the nation over the past two years. Being uninsured can be fatal; estimates are that more than 300 Minnesotans die each year due to lack of insurance.
The share of Minnesotans with employer-based coverage dipped nearly 9% in the last decade, with some of those employees joining the ranks of the uninsured, some shifting to individually purchased insurance, and some moving to public plans.
According to state rankings by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, Minnesota has ranked in the top three states in health care quality since 2006. On one key measure, amenable mortality, Minnesota ranked among the best in the world. Minnesota’s hospitals, physician offices and nursing homes are particularly strong. We rate relatively poorly in terms of our home health agencies and health disparities between low-income and affluent communities. In terms of care by clinical area, Minnesota does well in treating cancer, diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease but poorly in maternal and child health measures, mainly as a result of poor access to prenatal care among non-whites. Minnesota has some of the greatest health disparities in the country between whites and people of color and Native American populations. People of color have significantly more problems with access to health care, even when enrolled in state health programs.
Minnesota has higher per capita health care spending than the national average: $7,409 versus $6,815 in 2009. Minnesota health care spending as a share of the economy is lower than the national average, 14.1% compared to 17.6%. But Minnesota’s health care spending is rising unsustainably. Spending reached $36.4 billion in 2009. The Minnesota Department of Health projects that health care spending will reach $78 billion—nearly 20% of our economy—by 2019.
In the last decade, health care costs grew a cumulative 117% while wages grew only 35.2%. Minnesotans are paying a greater share of these health care costs: Currently about 16% of all health care spending is out-of-pocket, compared with less than 10% a decade ago.