MDH: MN uninsured rate stayed below 5% in 1st half of 2020, despite pandemic; trend of forgoing health care also continued

The Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday that new research indicates Minnesota’s uninsured rate held steady in the first half of 2020, despite the economic shock of the pandemic.

The state’s uninsured rate stayed at about 5% through July 2020. Economic downturns typically result in higher rates of uninsurance, MDH said.

"The investments we made before and during the pandemic to ensure Minnesotans had access to affordable health coverage helped more people stay insured, even in the midst of job losses and economic instability," MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. "However, we also see that there is work to be done to get all Minnesotans covered, especially frontline workers in the hospitality and service industries that have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19. And we remain concerned about rising health care costs."

MDH says about 264,000 Minnesotans (4.7%) were uninsured in 2019, according to the state’s Health Access Survey. That number had decreased to 258,600 Minnesotans (4.6%) by July 2020, research showed. State officials credited state and federal stimulus programs as well as temporary changes to Medicaid and MinnesotaCare for the slight decrease.

However, the survey also found a continuing trend of Minnesotans forgoing health care more frequently and struggling to pay medical bills in 2019. Overall, one in four Minnesotans reported having to delay or go without needed health care due to cost in 2019, up from one in five in 2017. MDH said the increase was most concentrated among residents who get health coverage through their employer.