Consumer protections lacking in individual health insurance, report finds


Key consumer protections are lacking in the individual health insurance market in Minnesota, according to a new study published by Families USA, and released Thursday by TakeAction Minnesota.

The new report, “Failing Grades: State Consumer Protections in the Individual Health Insurance Market,” finds that Minnesota consumers lack adequate protection against:

• Denial of coverage for pre-existing health conditions. Minnesota ranks poorly – in the bottom half of states – for how long insurance companies can exclude coverage for pre-existing health conditions.

Minnesota is one of 21 states that allow insurers to exclude coverage of a pre-existing condition for more than one year from the time of enrollment. In contrast, 29 states cap to one year or less the length of time that insurance companies can exclude pre-existing conditions from coverage.

• Revocation of health coverage. Twenty-nine states, including Minnesota, do not require insurers to complete all medical underwriting and resolve all questions at the time of application. The absence of this requirement allows insurance companies to dig further into an individual’s medical history, and retroactively limit or revoke coverage when a need for medical treatment arises. (Insurance companies in 16 states, by contrast, are expected or required under state law to complete all medical underwriting at the time of enrollment.)

“This report confirms that Minnesota’s health care system discriminates against the sickest among us, forcing them to pay more for coverage if they can get coverage at all and allowing the coverage to be revoked after the fact,” said Representative Paul Thissen, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives. “That is not right and we need to change it.”

“This report illustrates the widening cracks in the health care system in Minnesota,” added Dan McGrath, Executive Director of TakeAction Minnesota. “It underscores that a better health care system is needed that guarantees access to quality, affordable health care for everyone in Minnesota.”

Families USA is the national health care consumer organization, based in Washington D.C. TakeAction Minnesota is a statewide organization that works for social, racial and economic justice, including quality, affordable health care for everyone in Minnesota.

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