- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The rate of people in Minnesota without health insurance has fallen to a record low, state health officials announced Monday.

As of 2015, only about 4.3 percent of people in Minnesota lacked health insurance, a nearly 4 percentage point drop from 2013, the Minnesota Department of Health reported.

The department and the University of Minnesota jointly surveyed about 11,000 Minnesotans from August to November in 2015 as part of its review they conduct once every two years.

The report is the first from the state on uninsured rates since the expansion of Medicaid and the full implementation of MNsure, the state-run health insurance marketplace.

“Minnesota has a history of leading the nation in providing health insurance for our residents and workers,” said Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger. “Even so, 2015 marked an unprecedented advancement for the health and security of Minnesota families, particularly those who had previously been lost in the gaps of our health care system.”

The study found the majority of people in Minnesota continue to get health coverage through their employers. Ehlinger said 2015 marked the first year in a decade that the rate of employer coverage has not declined, which he attributed to the state’s economy.

Ehlinger also chalked up the overall increase in coverage in part to the expansion of Medicaid and the full implementation of MNsure, through which people can get health insurance subsidies. He said getting to 100 percent in coverage is the ultimate goal but that it would be difficult to achieve.

Hispanics and young Minnesotans were two groups that made some of the biggest gains from 2013 to 2015. The uninsured rate for Hispanics in Minnesota fell from about 35 percent in 2013 to less than 12 percent in 2015.

The uninsured rate of people ages 18 to 34 dropped from about 15 percent to 7 percent.

While the rate of those without insurance decreased across all age, income, racial and ethnic groups, disparities remain. About 36 percent of those without insurance in Minnesota are people of color despite comprising only about 19 percent of the population.

MNsure CEO Allison O’Toole said in order to reduce disparities, MNsure will to continue relying on working with organizations in communities of color who know best how to reach the remaining uninsured.

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