30 percent fewer Minnesotans buy health insurance on their own than in 2016

Today there are 30 percent fewer Minnesotans buying health insurance on their own than this time last year. While MNsure’s announcement today that 114,810 people bought these policies through the state’s marketplace, fewer purchased health insurance directly from health plans. Total enrollment is just under 190,000, down from 270,400 in March 2016.

Print the Council’s Statement.

“MNsure is getting a bigger share of a smaller pie,” said Jim Schowalter, president of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans. “While it’s great that more people are getting help from the federal and state governments to pay their monthly premiums, the fact that so few people have signed up is alarming.
“The bad news is that fewer people will be helping to pay for really high medical bills. In the past about 5,300 people (1.6 percent of those who bought health insurance on their own) needed medical care totaling $630 million,” Schowalter concluded. “I’m concerned that fewer people paying premiums will mean more problems in the future.”
Schowalter added that these numbers aren’t final and overstate the number of people who will have insurance. Historically, people drop policies after signing up. The hope is that the number who drop will decreas this year because of the help that is available to pay premiums.

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We want to clarify a statement in a recent StarTribune Commentary.

In “Painful health insurance premiums are merely average. But, average’ isn’t affordable when catastrophic medical bills are no longer widely shared” we stated that one of Wakely’s research findings was “2017 premiums aren’t out of line when compared with the medical bills paid.” This statement is the opinion of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans and not one of Wakely’s direct research findings.

As part of their research, Wakely did not examine detailed claims data that would link premiums directly to medical bills. Rather, Wakely’s research states “Nationally many insurer’s premium rates were inadequate to cover costs for 2014 and 2015. Minnesota’s premiums were also inadequate as evidenced by insurer losses. In 2017, Minnesota’s premiums are now more in line with other states.

We don’t yet know if 2017 premiums match 2017 medical bills.

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