University of Minnesota researchers recently reported that the federal health overhaul has reduced the number of uninsured in Minnesota by 40 percent.
Through MNsure, some 36,000 people enrolled in private insurance plans, and about 155,000 people joined the publicly run Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs. The number of people enrolled in employer-provided group plans held steady at about 3 million.
Many of those who enrolled in Medicaid and MinnesotaCare were people who already qualified, but had not applied. The MNsure outreach encouraged and assisted them in applying.
The increase in the number of insured means there should be an increase in the number of people who are receiving timely, preventive medical care. All too often, people who lack health insurance avoid going to see a doctor until they are seriously ill. Diseases and conditions that could have been managed or cured more easily through early detection become more serious, requiring more costly treatment.
People who have insurance will get checkups and medical advice that leads them to healthier lifestyle decisions and prevent them from getting ill. People with insurance will get the screenings that can catch serious, potentially life-threatening diseases like breast cancer or colon cancer.
People can still disagree about the cost and requirements of the Affordable Care Act, and the bumbling that surrounded its kickoff, but for the people who now have health insurance that didn't have it before, it could be a lifesaver.