The federal health reform law requires states to establish a state health insurance Exchange that will help individuals and small businesses compare, choose and enroll in high quality health insurance plans. The Exchange will also determine eligibility for public health care programs and for federal tax credits to offset the cost of health insurance. At least a half a million Minnesotans are expected to get their health insurance through the Exchange beginning in 2014. Our Organizing Director, Phillip Cryan, serves on the 15-member Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Task Force that is making recommendations to the Minnesota Department of Commerce on the design of the Exchange.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and other advocates for consumers, patients and workers see the establishment of the Exchange as an opportunity to reduce health disparities in Minnesota. Health disparities are differences in the quality of health and health care associated with differences in race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and education level. SEIU Healthcare MN helped organize a Task Force meeting in January dedicated entirely to the topic of racial health disparities in Minnesota – which are among the worst in the nation – and what the Exchange can do to generate health equity. We also collaborated with other Task Force members to develop specific recommendations on reducing health disparities through the Exchange. The recommendations are currently under consideration by the Task Force.
Here are a couple of key documents about how we could use the Exchange to generate health equity.