If you look at the bios of the new Minnesota Health Exchange Board members, you see common themes weaving among them. They all appear to have plenty else going on in their lives. They represent a diverse skill set. And they each have taken on big responsibilities during their lives. You don’t find such characteristics in people who want to waste time driving on a road to nowhere. Their collective success will be Minnesota’s success. A successful MNSure will open the door to new positives that often get lost in “sky is falling” rhetoric. Such emerging benefits include:
1. Better Workforce, More Innovation: How many times have you heard a person say, “I hate my job, and I’d love to do something different, but I stay because I need health insurance.” How sad and counterproductive. Making affordable health insurance available will remove “health insurance handcuffs,” empowering people who have desire to try another career to do that or to embark on an entrepreneurial pursuit without losing insurance coverage. That should benefit Minnesota with more engaged workers and more start-ups that grow through entrepreneurial endeavors. (Interestingly, most entrepreneurial start-ups come from older Americans (50-64), an age band that also comprises the largest group of pre-Medicare health care spenders.
2. AgeSURE – A Path to a Stronger Safety Net and Keeping More People from Poverty: A goal of MNSure is to take out the complexities of purchasing health insurance with easy-to-understand online apple-to-apples comparisons and quality rankings. Success here could move to taking complexities out of insurance for aging services that help people stay healthfully independent for as long as possible and help prevent expensive “bounce-back” visits to the emergency room.
Most people don’t purchase long-term care insurance. Consumers often say it’s too expensive, too complex, or they fear it won’t be there when they need it. A statewide AgeSure Exchange could eliminate those complexities and help people more easily connect to financial products that fit their needs. Such a market would help products improve and fit needs of more people and income levels. Improved products and a one-stop marketplace improves sales opportunities. More people with insurance for home care, transportation assistance, and other elder services slows Medicaid spending, strengthening a safety net for those most in need, and helping strengthen state finances.
3. Collaboration that Trumps Complexity: MNSure is a big opportunity to stoke our state’s innovation mojo and prove Minnesotans can make things better instead of waddling in complexity and hyperpartisanship. That will only happen if people work together. MNSure’s success should provide a confidence jolt to the state that we can cut through complexities of other thorny areas that have major public-private consequences, such as education and poverty, and make things better for more Minnesotans.
Many people helped get the Exchange to the Legislature. There Rep. Joe Atkins, chief author of the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange legislation, shepherded it through 73.5 hours of public hearings in 18 different legislative committees. Many ideas by many people were exchanged on the Exchange. Now the MNSure Board and MNSure staff continue the hard work. With their success, MNSure will succeed, and Minnesota will show it can come together to take on 21st Century challenges rather than wallowing in complexity and gridlock.
Katy Read had an interesting story recently in the Star Tribune asking about what language we should use to refer to older people. One thought that comes to mind is “people.”
"Mature" could conceivably apply to a well-behaved teenager. "Retiree" refers to a job status, not a life stage. "Old-timer" evokes a long white beard and overalls outside the general store. "Elder" sounds, to some ears, a bit artificially tribal. But tack on a "ly" and it's far worse -- in many people's minds, "elderly" might as well be a synonym for "frail."
So what the heck should we call people who are, um, you know ... old?
It's an interesting question.
A few years ago Ecumen commissioned a statewide survey of baby boomers on a variety of topics related to their future and aging. One question tested a couple of phrases, asking which they found most appealing: senior, elder, older adult and third ager. We didn't include "senior citizen" because it just seems dated.
- 48% favored “senior”
- 40% favored “older adult”
- 9 % favored “elder”
- 2% favored “third ager”
- 1% said “none”
Does senior work for you, or do you have other ideas?
Several years ago at a Courage Center awards dinner, Michael Graves, renowned architect and designer of hip Target house wares, rolled to the stage in his wheelchair, looked upon the crowd and declared.
“Welcome to the new normal.”
Opportunity for Target and Other Retailers