New health care study looks at rates of uninsured

Low-income, young Southwest residents least likely to be insured

rates of uninsured

Most Southwest Minneapolis-area residents have health insurance, but the area’s insurance rates vary depending on poverty levels and demographics, according to a statewide analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Insurance rates in zip codes overlapping with Southwest Minneapolis range between 85.3% and 96.5%, according to the analysis released this fall from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Generally, poorer Southwest Minneapolis-area zip codes and zip codes with more 26- to 34-year-olds have higher rates of people going without insurance. The area’s more affluent zip codes, particularly those south of 36th Street, have the lowest proportion of uninsured residents. 

Many people who don’t have insurance are eligible for a subsidy on the state’s MNsure exchange or for one of the state’s public programs, Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare. “A lot of people really don’t know that they’re eligible,” said Kathleen Call, a U of M professor who led the study.

Nationally, fewer people are getting insurance and costs are rising. The average premium for employer-sponsored family coverage has increased 54% over the last decade, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. More workers now have higher deductibles, too.

The University of Minnesota analysis looked at data from the 2013–17 American Community Survey.

In the eight zip codes encompassing all or parts of Southwest Minneapolis, which cover over 180,000 people and include parts of surrounding Minneapolis neighborhoods and several nearby cities, 7.8% of people are uninsured.

The zip code with the highest rate of people going without insurance, 55404, encompasses portions of Whittier, Stevens Square, Elliot Park and the Phillips community. In that zip code 14.7% of residents are uninsured.

Nearly 40% of its 27,184 residents live under the poverty line, which in 2018 was about $25,700 for a family of four.

The Southwest Minneapolis-area zip code with the second-highest rate of uninsured residents, 55408, includes all or parts of six Uptown neighborhoods and two neighborhoods east of Interstate 35W. There, 12.7% of residents don’t have insurance.

Less than 16% of residents in that zip code live in poverty, but nearly 30% of them are between the ages of 26 and 34. Statewide, 26- to 34-year-olds comprise the age group most likely to go without insurance.

The local zip code with the lowest rate of uninsured residents, 55410, covers Linden Hills, Fulton, Armatage and several Edina neighborhoods. About 3.5% of its residents do not have insurance.

Mohammed Batuun is a MNsure “navigator” who works part time on the third floor of Karmel Mall, which is located in the 55408 zip code. His role entails helping people understand their options when it comes to health insurance.

Batuun, who also works as a tax preparer, said many of the people he sees going without insurance are young, single and make too much to qualify for a public program. He said he encourages them to sign up for insurance regardless and to reach out to their elected officials about the high costs.

Call said the zip-code-by-zip-code analysis is intended in part to help local experts like Batuun plan outreach efforts. Some navigators have been using the information to figure out where to target mailers or host enrollment activities, she said.

The zip code map is online at tinyurl.com/insurancedata.