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Fewer Minnesota people insured through jobs

MOORHEAD - A report released Tuesday shows a 10 percent decline in employer-sponsored health insurance in Minnesota, while the rate held steady in North Dakota.

The report by the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center shows the percentage of nonelderly Americans who get health insurance through their jobs declined 8 percent in a decade from 69 percent in 1999-2000 to 61 percent in 2008-09.

Minnesota was one of a handful of states that saw a more significant decline, decreasing from 81 percent to 71 percent.

Julie Sonier, deputy director for the State Health Access Data Assistance Center, said the change "seems to be due to a substantial shift in the makeup of Minnesota's population with regard to income distribution."

The state experienced significant growth in its low-income population, which has the least amount of access to employer-sponsored health coverage, she said.

North Dakota held steady over the decade with about 69 percent of nonelderly people receiving health insurance at work, the report showed.

Sonier attributed that to the strong employment environment North Dakota experienced over the decade.

"Therefore, as a result, you got that stability of employer-sponsored coverage," she said.

Sonier also pointed out that both Minnesota and North Dakota are above the national average of people with employer-sponsored health insurance.

A fair amount of the decline nationally was in dependent coverage, the report said.

The study did not look at what types of industries are more likely to offer insurance.

In general, residents of rural areas are less likely to have access to employer-sponsored health insurance, Sonier said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590