For a state that lives near the top of rankings of health and quality of living, Minnesota is having a bad week. Tuesday, the Associated Press tagged Minnesota with the third-highest rate of kindergartners entering school without vaccinations. State health officials quibbled with the numbers, but now comes a report that Minnesota was the only state with a stastically significant increase in uninsured kids from 2008 to 2010.
The report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows that Minnesota's uninsured rate increased from 5.8 percent in 2008 to 6.6 percent last year. Minnesota's rate remains lower than the national average -- 8.0 percent in 2010 -- but the national average actually declined one percentage point since 2008. Thirty-four states saw their child uninsured rates decline significantly, according to the report, which was based on the federal American Community Survey.
In a written statement, Amy Crawford of the Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota blamed rising premiums for the increase and called for strengthening of public-funded safety net programs.
“Health insurance premiums have increased much faster than wages and now, on average, cost about 17 percent of median household income in our state,” Crawford said. “Those costs are putting health insurance out of reach for more and more Minnesotans. We need to strengthen our public health coverage programs like Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare to make sure children are not falling through the cracks.”
Below are the actual numbers (a * means it was statisically significant). Most of the states with increases still have some of the lowest rates in the nation. Progress generally came in states with the worst uninsured rates.
|STATE||2008 PERCENT||2010 PERCENT||PERCENTAGE POINT CHANGE||STATE RANKING FOR CHANGE IN UNINSURED RATE|
|United States||9||8||-1.0 *||—|
|District of Columbia||3.6||2.3||-1.3||22|
The CDF report noted a silver lining in state legislation that was passed in 2009. Changes under the legislation could extend MinnesotaCare coverage to another 16,000 children by 2015. The federal government OKed the changes to the program this June, but state officials have yet to implement them:
The legislation allows children under 200 percent of the federal poverty line to enroll in MinnesotaCare without a four-month waiting period, without consideration of other insurance and without a premium payment. These three requirements have long been identified as obstacles for families who are otherwise eligible for MinnesotaCare but have been especially burdensome for families in this economy who have experienced job loss and rapidly rising premium costs for employer-sponsored insurance.