The high cost of insurance premiums, unmanageable co-pays, and the lack of transparency in the cost for accessing our healthcare system are sure fire conversation starters as I travel Minnesota’s Senate District 11.
Health insurance doesn't necessarily result in health care.
That was the common thread woven through the stories shared recently in Carlton, Minnesota by members of the Land Stewardship Project.*
During the LSP’s Affordable Healthcare Conversation one member shared how -- even though he has insurance coverage -- he only seeks medical treatment in an emergency for fear of surprise, budget-busting bills in the mail. Another explained how 41 percent of his income goes to insurance premiums and copays.
As insured families juggle paychecks to make ends meet, the lack of transparency in the cost of medical care and prescription drugs also plays into the difficulty of accessing affordable health care.
A perfect example of that was outlined by a third LSP member who described how his wife needed to have the same surgery twice at two different facilities. The first surgery cost $143,000. The second surgery cost $28,000. Prior to both, he and his wife were unable to learn the cost of either surgery. Ironically, the far less expensive surgery worked.
Affordable, accessible health care is critical in ensuring a healthy workforce
Listening to the experiences shared at the LSP gathering it became even more clear that our current health insurance system is unhealthy for many working Minnesotans. The State of Minnesota has the perfect opportunity to lead the nation in addressing the harmful effects of insurance coverage that does not necessarily guarantee health care.
Expand MinnesotaCare by increasing income limits to cover families struggling to meet high premiums and copays; requiring transparency in healthcare costs and drug prices, allowing consumers to shop around; and supporting the sustainability of our rural healthcare system by developing a fair system of reimbursements.
I look forward to continuing this conversation on the campaign trail.
*LSP’s mission includes fostering an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture, and to develop healthy communities.