Tens of thousands of Minnesotans gained health coverage between 2013 and 2015, pushing the state’s uninsured rate to an all-time low as federal health reform took hold across the state. A biannual survey released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota showed that 213,000 more residents had health insurance last year compared to 2013. The share of Minnesotans lacking coverage plummeted from 8.2 percent to 4.3 percent, with progress in virtually all demographic groups.
State officials hailed the role of MNsure, despite vexing technical problems for the online marketplace, for connecting more Minnesotans with coverage they previously lacked or couldn’t afford. Expanded eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program helped as well, along with new rules allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans. The results were “an unprecedented advance for the health and security of Minnesota families — particularly those who had previously been lost in the gaps of our system,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, state health commissioner.
When Alexander Star was 15 years old, he thought he was the picture of health, especially after he made the varsity basketball team. But when he told one of his teachers he needed to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes, she rightly told him he should be checked for diabetes. Frequent urination is a classic warning sign. When the doctors tested Star’s blood glucose level, it was 1,300 mg/dL – dangerously high considering that even in people with diabetes the goal is to keep blood glucose levels between about 100 and 150 mg/dL. “The doctors wondered why I wasn’t in a coma,” says Star, who is now a 29-year-old recording artist/songwriter living in Florida. “That was the beginning of my journey as a type 1 diabetic.”
He was covered under his father’s insurance plan until he turned 26 – when he suddenly found himself without health insurance he could afford. “The COBRA plan I was on shot up from $120 a month to $512 a month for the exact same plan, a cost that was not do-able for me,” Star says. Fortunately, the Obamacare marketplace opened up soon after and he enrolled in a new plan. “If it wasn’t for Obamacare, I don’t know how I’d be capable of taking care of myself,” Star says. “Even if I had a lot of money, before Obamacare they could still decline me because I have a pre-existing condition.” Star signed up for a plan with better coverage and more personal attention than he received from his previous plan. His premiums are around $150 a month and he doesn’t pay anything extra for his insulin pump or continuous blood glucose monitor – diabetes management options his previous provider never even told him about.
More young women are getting screened and diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer, potentially because Obamacare allows them to access insurance benefits through their parents’ plans, according to a new study from American Cancer Society researchers. The researchers examined a large database that tracks cancer cases in the United States. They compared the cancer diagnoses among women between the ages of 21 to 25 to the diagnoses among women between the ages of 26 to 34 — both before and after the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion took effect. An Obamacare provision that allows young adults to remain insured through their parents’ plans until the age of 26 appears to have affected the rates of cervical cancer diagnosis among that demographic.
After the ACA, the diagnosis rates significantly rose for the women in their early twenties and remained fairly constant for older women. “It’s a very remarkable finding, actually,” researcher Dr. Ahmedin Jemal told the New York Times. “You see the effect of the ACA on the cancer outcomes.” It’s better to receive an early cancer diagnosis because the disease is easier to treat in its early stages and patients are more likely to survive. Even though it might not sound like a good thing that cervical cancer cases are on the rise, it’s actually reflective of the fact that more people are using their health insurance to get screened. Previous research has found that people with insurance are more likely to take advantage of preventative health services like screenings that can detect cancer as soon as possible.
WATE: Tennessee Has Lowest Number Of Uninsured In Decade
A new report says the number of uninsured people in Tennessee has continued to drop. According to a report by the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research Tennessee has hit a 10-year low, with the number of uninsured dropping to 6.6 percent.
Dr. LeAnn Luana, who co-authored the report, says the downward trend began in 2013, coinciding with the availability of the health insurance marketplace established as part of the Affordable Care Act. The number of uninsured children also saw a drop by more than half since 2013. According to the study, 98.5 percent of children are currently uninsured.
The percentage of women of reproductive age who were uninsured dropped sharply between 2013 and 2014, the first full year of implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The decrease among women aged 15–44, calculated by the Guttmacher Institute, mirrors broader national trends reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. This includes steeper drops in the uninsured rate in states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA compared with the rates in those states that did not. The proportion of reproductive-age women without health insurance declined by more than one-fifth between 2013 and 2014, from 17.9% to 13.9%. The change appears to have been driven primarily by gains in Medicaid coverage (from 17.2% to 20.2%). There was a small increase in the proportion of women with private health insurance, from 60.9% to 62.1%.
Gains in insurance coverage among reproductive-age women who live below the poverty line were substantial as well. The uninsured rate dropped by one-fifth, from 32.1% in 2013 to 25.6% in 2014. The gains in the proportion of women aged 15–44 who have insurance coverage has significant implications for access to health care in general, and to sexual and reproductive health care in particular. Medicaid has long offered a very robust package of sexual and reproductive health care services, including family planning services and supplies without out-of-pocket costs for enrollees. And the ACA has spurred significant improvements in private plans’ coverage; most notably, the contraceptive coverage guarantee ensures that privately insured women can access the full range of 18 Food and Drug Administration–approved contraceptive methods for women without out-of-pocket costs.