Health insurance

Health insurance helps ensure access to health care

In the U.S., health insurance helps people get the health care they need. Health care can be very expensive. When a person is insured, a private company or a government program pays some or all of their medical bills. 

Lacking health insurance can be expensive and dangerous

If a person without health insurance is sick or injured, they are often responsible for the full cost of the care that they need. Because medical care is expensive, people without health insurance are less likely to seek medical care for routine conditions and injuries. They are also less likely to receive preventative care that can keep them healthy.

A lack of health insurance is associated with poor health outcomes related to asthma, stroke, and some cancers. People without health insurance may also be at increased risk for hospitalization and premature death. 

When fewer people have health insurance, more people are at risk for harmful health and financial outcomes.

What types of insurance can people get?

The U.S. Census Bureau classifies health insurance coverage as either private coverage (like a plan provided by an employer or purchased from a private company) or government coverage (such as MedicareMedicaid, military health care, and individual state health plans provided by the government).

In Minnesota, there are two state-based public health insurance programs, Medical Assistance (MA) and MinnesotaCare, in addition to other public programs like Medicare. To learn more about public health insurance in Minnesota, see the Guide to Minnesota's Public Health Care Programs.

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010 and has been followed by several years' implementation of comprehensive health insurance reforms. To learn more about the Affordable Care Act and how it will increase and protect health insurance coverage in the U.S., go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services webpage: About the Law.

What is MDH doing about coverage and access?

MDH Health Economics Program (HEP) collects and studies data to assess changes in the health care marketplace and to understand the factors influencing health care cost, quality, and access. HEP provides data to inform state health care policies. For additional information, see the Minnesota Health Access Survey, the Minnesota Health Care Markets Chartbook, all materials using MN APCD data, and Health Economics Program Publications

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