Nearly 12,000 More MN Children without Health Insurance


November 29, 2011

Nearly 12,000 More MN Children without Health Insurance

 

Public News Source, by John Michaelson

November 29, 2011

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November 29, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The number of children in Minnesota who don't have health insurance continues to rise. A new report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families says that over the last three years, nearly 12,000 more kids in the state became uninsured.

Elaine Cunningham, outreach director for the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, says it's especially disappointing because the nation as a whole did better.

"Thirty-three states showed a decrease in their 'un-insurance' rate. Some states kind of held even. Minnesota was the only state that lost significant ground, with a 0.8 percent increase in the number of uninsured children."

Cunningham says the number is up largely because many parents lost jobs in the economic downturn. Others are employed, but find the cost of coverage too high.

"Employer-sponsored insurance is becoming so unaffordable for many families. It's up to 17 percent of income right now that is going toward insurance premiums. For a lot of lower-income families, that's unaffordable and they just choose not to take their employer-sponsored insurance."

The Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota says there is some help on the way. Regional Director Amy Crawford says legislation passed in 2009 will eliminate some barriers and allow more kids on the state-subsidized MinnesotaCare program, and that plan now has federal approval.

"Which then provides us an opportunity to go ahead and implement this expanded coverage, so that we can provide more support for our most vulnerable children and help them be more fully prepared for school and work and life success."

Crawford says the state hasn't announced when it will implement the changes. Some expect them next summer, but Crawford says she'd like to see the process fast-tracked.

"The longer that we delay with implementing the coverage, the longer - that's just time that we're losing, I think - for kids who really could benefit from that preventive care."

The changes approved would allow coverage for an additional 15,000 children in the MinnesotaCare program by 2015.

Nationally, the number of uninsured children decreased by 14 percent, falling from 6.9 million in 2008 to 5.9 million in 2010.

More details are at www.cdf-mn.org and at ccf.georgetown.edu

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN

     
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