KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Minnesota Governor Proposes To Let Residents Buy Out-Of-State Insurance And Other State Headlines

News outlets report on a variety of state health stories including insurance in Minnesota, premiums and out-of-pocket costs in Massachusetts and high premiums for Blue Sheild in California.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has proposed letting Minnesotans purchase out-of-state health insurance policies and letting for-profit insurers into Minnesota to drive down health costs, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports.

"The plan would also use co-pays and higher deductibles to steer lower-income people on Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare toward state-approved clinics - a move Pawlenty said could trim state costs by $100 million a year." The proposal was met with resistance from the Democratic Farmer-Labor party in that state (Sternberg and Wolfe, 10/13).

Meanwhile, one in five Massachusetts residents says they have a medical debt despite reforms in that state while a new study shows ways Massachusetts can make health care more affordable.

According to NPR/WBUR, the report says Massachusetts should consider premiums and out-of-pocket costs when considering what a subsidized resident can afford. It also says credit reports shouldn't include medical debt because such expenses are involuntary and that the states should allow low-income workers with unaffordable employer coverage to have subsidized plans (Pfeiffer, 10/15).

The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts' uninsured rate held steady despite rising unemployment. "The annual survey of nearly 5,000 households between March and June of this year found that about 171,000 people did not have health insurance, a number that is roughly the same as last year's finding" (Lazar, 10/14).

The Los Angeles Times reports that Blue Shield has been ousted from California's state high-risk pool - which covers 6,700 people with pre-existing conditions - for too-high premiums. "(S)uch people are able to buy coverage from private insurers at premiums that are supposed to be 25% higher than the market rate for a comparable policy. The state reimburses the insurers for any losses they incur. Despite the state's backing, Blue Shield's premiums have been substantially higher than those of the other two private insurers in the program, Kaiser Permanente and Anthem Blue Cross of California" (Girion, 10/15).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.