Health insurance needs: Listening to your neighbors

We took a run at the health care debate recently, looking at where the uninsured live in Minnesota. Thanks to my MPR colleagues we’re now bringing your voices to the discussion.

Check out the map below put together by MPR’s Public Insight Network and ProPublica, the non-profit journalism group. Hundreds of voices from across the country talking about their health insurance experiences.

Zoom into Minnesota, read a few, and you’ll get a fast understanding on the chronic insurance problems many of us face. Whatever your take on the debate, there’s no doubt the wrong choice on health insurance — or having no choice at all — is taking a toll.

MPR’s weaving those voices already into news stories. ProPublica is also planning coverage based on the responses as is Marketplace, the public radio business show. We’re still looking for more stories. Share yours here.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau today came out with some new health insurance data. Minnesota remains one of the best states: “only” about 8.7 percent of Minnesotans (roughly 444,000 people) didn’t have health coverage in 2008.

The chart below shows three year averages for uninsured. Minnesota is third in most covered, behind Massachusetts and Hawaii. Texas and New Mexico were the worst, with roughly one in four uninsured.

In that sense, Minnesota’s doing pretty well. Why? Is it MinnesotaCare, the state-federal program providing insurance to low-income families? Is it employer coverage? The Minnesota Budget Project notes the percentage of Minnesotans with employer-provided coverage dropped from 77 percent in 2000-01 to 71 percent in 2007-08.

So as we read through the stories of struggle, I’m hoping we’ll also start hearing stories of what works.

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