Minnesotans on employer plans see modest rate hikes

Published 10:08 am Thursday, September 15, 2016

ST. PAUL — The majority of Minnesota residents aren’t experiencing the hefty health insurance rate hikes that shoppers who buy their coverage individually will see, according to data the federal government released Wednesday.

More than half of Minnesota residents are covered by employer plans, while just 5 percent have insurance on the individual market. That small slice of the state, which buys coverage directly through insurers or through Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, is bracing for a major rate increase next year of between 36 percent and 66 percent.

But data analyzed by the Kaiser Family Foundation show that health insurance rates for employer plans nationwide have experienced just modest rate increases, including a 3.4 percent jump in 2016.

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Aviva Aron-Dine from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said insurance companies in Minnesota and across the nation are still adjusting to the massive changes brought on by President Barack Obama’s health care law. While employer coverage has benefited from cost-cutting measures in the Affordable Care Act, she said insurers individual marketplaces are still “making up for underpricing” — a particular issue in Minnesota, where the state billed itself as having the lowest premiums in the nation in 2014’s opening year.

“Unlike the employer market, the individual marketplace is going into its fourth year ever. We see it as still being in a transition year,” Aron-Dine said.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau also shows that just 4.5 percent of Minnesota residents are uninsured — down from 9.1 percent in 2010.