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Indicator 1 5 : Health insurance

Goal: Minnesotans will be healthy. This goal encompasses both physical and mental health throughout life. It is also aimed at reducing disparities in health status among racial and ethnic minorities. Indicators for the goal deal with both health status and health care.

Rationale: Health insurance coverage is a good indicator of progress toward the goal because it increases the likelihood that people will get the preventive care and treatment they need to stay healthy.

About this indicator: Health insurance coverage levels have changed very little in the past decade, fluctuating between 90 and 92 percent. The Minnesota Department of Health has a goal of full insurance coverage, including preventive services, for every Minnesotan by 2004. In 2001, the Minnesota Legislature allocated $13.9 million for a statewide health disparities initiative.

The survey that provides these statistics does not differentiate between full coverage and insurance that covers only major illness and hospitalization. People with inadequate insurance or no insurance often forgo routine preventive care.

For comparison: At 91 percent, Minnesota ranked second behind Rhode Island for health insurance coverage in 1999-2000. The national two-year average was 86 percent. For the years 1999-2000, 92 percent of Minnesota children were insured, compared to a national average of 88 percent.

Things to think about: In the United States, most health insurance comes through employment. Others are covered by government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, MinnesotaCare and military health care.

Groups with lower insurance coverage include lower-income people, those born outside the United States, and young adults age 18 to 24. Health insurance rates among those born outside the United States increase with length of residence and citizenship.

In 2000 the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health was awarded a three-year, $4 million federal grant to help states nationwide assess their insurance needs. More detailed information about the characteristics of the uninsured should help policy-makers target interventions more effectively.

Technical notes: Survey respondents are considered to have insurance coverage if they were covered by either private insurance or government programs such as Medicare or MinnesotaCare at any time during the year. Because of small sample sizes and possible errors in annual state-level estimates, two-year averages are used.

Since 1990 the Health Department has used the Minnesota Health Access Survey, an annual telephone poll, to track uninsurance rates in the state. Minnesota Milestones uses the Current Population Survey (CPS) based on annually updated census information.

The rate of change reported in these two surveys has been very similar, but the absolute uninsurance rates reported from the CPS and the Minnesota Health Access Survey are different because the surveys use different definitions of uninsurance. The CPS uninsurance rate is a measure of the percent of people uninsured at some time during the previous year. The uninsurance rate from the Minnesota Health Access Survey is a measure of the percent of people uninsured at the time of the survey. Over time, the CPS uninsurance rate has consistently been about 50% higher than the uninsurance rate from the Minnesota Health Access Survey.

Sources:

  • U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Health Insurance Coverage, September 2001, www.census.gov

Related indicators:

Other related indicators:

  • Percentage of children under 18 covered by health insurance (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Life expectancy at birth and age 65 by gender, race and ethnicity (Minnesota Planning, State Demographic Center, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Cancer rate (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Infectious disease rate (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Leading cause of death for selected age groups by gender, race and ethnicity (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Percentage of children under 18 covered by health insurance (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Life expectancy at birth and age 65 by gender, race and ethnicity (Minnesota Planning, State Demographic Center, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Cancer rate (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Infectious disease rate (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)
  • Leading cause of death for selected age groups by gender, race and ethnicity (Minnesota Department of Health, www.health.state.mn.us)

Technical problems? Contact: demography.helpline@state.mn.us