Studies: Minnesota is healthier than most states

Remember when WCCO Radio featured a spoof on “Minnesota Hospital” and boasted Minnesota was “a good state to get sick in”?

Well, it turns out that by most measures, Minnesota is a good state to stay well in.

According to a study by United Health Foundation, Minnesota ranks third by many measures.

The latest indication comes from a report by the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center that shows Minnesota is making good progress in the number of residents enrolled in private and governmental health insurance programs.

Maybe the numbers on the Affordable Care Act – critics like to call it Obamacare – aren’t as bad as advertised.

Granted, Minnesota had a jump on other states with good enrollment in MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance, Minnesota’s Medicaid program. The Affordable Care Act loosened the restrictions on Medicaid, enabling 135,000 people to enroll.

In any event, despite the rocky online rollout of the health exchange under MNsure, from Sept. 30, 2013, until May 2014, the number of uninsured Minnesotans dropped from 445,000 to 264,500  – a 40.6 percent difference. That leaves 4.9 percent of the state’s population uninsured – the lowest percentage ever.

Minnesota, according to MNsure CEO Scott Leitz, has one of the lowest health insurance premiums in the nation, in part because Minnesota health insurers had a head start over the rest of the states.

So, who else is healthy? According to the statistics from the United Health Foundation, the senior population in Minnesota, those over 55, ranks No. 1 in the nation for the second consecutive year.

Overall, in a number of measures, in 2013, Minnesota ranked third of all states, according to United Health Foundation, which considered data from the Health and Human Services and the Department of Commerce.

This same study cited Minnesota for having a low prevalence of diabetes and low rate of premature and cardiovascular deaths.

The study pointed to a two-year drop in infant mortality from 5.6 to 4.6 per 1,000 births.

At the same time, it cautioned about the high percentage of binge drinking and low per-capita health funding.

While this is a snapshot of the state’s health in one year, it helps keep in context that Minnesota continues to be a good state in which to live a healthy life.

Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers.

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