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The main drivers behind the drop in the uninsured came from enrollment gains in state health insurance coverage, Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare.
Researchers have long known that as many as two-thirds of the state’s uninsured were eligible for coverage through public programs, but either didn’t know it or didn’t take advantage of the aid.
Minnesota was one of 26 states that decided to expand Medicaid to include childless adults, which accounted for a surprising gain in new applicants, said Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson.
“We anticipated growth in children and families because we were simplifying the process and we were doing more outreach,” Jesson said. “But we had more adults without kids than we expected, and we had pretty healthy projections. That tells me the Medicaid expansion was even more significant than we anticipated, so far. We’re only a few months in.”
The state already offers a more generous subsidy for the working poor than other states through its MinnesotaCare program, so making Medicaid benefits available to more people doesn’t fully explain the accelerated growth in coverage.
“People haven’t enrolled in such large numbers before in such a short period of time, so there was something else going on during the open enrollment period,” Sonier said. “Whether it was awareness of the individual mandate or far more intensive, effective outreach ... something really got these people in the door where other attempts to do so had not been successful.”
Star Tribune Washington correspondent Corey Mitchell contributed to this report.
Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335