March 29, 2005


Bill mandates universal health insurance for Minnesotans (Patricia Lopez, March 30, 2005, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Every Minnesotan would be required to have at least minimal health insurance and every insurer would have to offer such a plan under a far-ranging health care overhaul bill offered by the Minnesota Medical Association on Tuesday.

The bill, which is being introduced with bipartisan support in the House and Senate today, would also ban smoking in the workplace -- including restaurants and bars -- and would increase the cigarette tax by $1 a pack.

Sen. Sheila Kiscaden, I-Rochester, the bill's Senate sponsor, called the proposal "a major health care reform effort" that ultimately could result in lower cost and more effective health care that tilts the system toward illness prevention. [...]

At its core, the plan would set out an as-yet-undefined set of "essential benefits" that would provide minimal coverage with an emphasis on prevention. Kiscaden said that Minnesotans might be required to offer proof of coverage when they filed their income taxes or applied for a driver's license. By the same token, insurers would have to offer the essential benefits and could not reject anyone because of age, gender or health history. Pre-existing health conditions, a common reason for rejection for traditional policies, could not be taken into account.

Require them to offer HSA's and it's a model for the nation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 29, 2005 5:42 PM

Yeah, right. We'll see. What do you want to bet that "basic essential service" includes viagra and hot-tub spa treatments for backache?

Posted by: ray at March 29, 2005 5:52 PM


Who cares, as long as you're paying for it yourself?

Posted by: oj at March 29, 2005 6:05 PM

"Who cares, as long as you're paying for it yourself?"

You probably live in a section 8 house. You're welcome OJ.

Posted by: NC3 at March 29, 2005 6:30 PM


Socialist like Bernie Sanders?

Let's see, how many insurers will pull out of MN?

Posted by: Sandy P at March 29, 2005 6:33 PM


Posted by: oj at March 29, 2005 7:03 PM

NC3: Your comment indicates you either don't own an HSA or don't know how they work (or perhaps both)? For the first year in history, our average middle income family paid their medical expenses with entirely tax free dollars (not subject to some AGI calculation) thanks to the HSA. It ain't HUD it's HSA

Posted by: John Resnick at March 29, 2005 7:05 PM

Oh this is great. Health insurance for a private individual is dang near impossible in this state, mainly because of mandated coverage for everything imaginable (mental heath, addictions). The best I can get is a $1000/mo policy that covers 50% and thus is not allowed under IRS rules to be paired with an HSA, so I get screwed doubly on the tax side.

This will backfire as badly as New Jersey's socialist auto insurance law, which caused insurers to flee and their rates to spike to the highest in the country. MN regulatory compliance already consumes 25% of HMO premiums.

Posted by: Gideon at March 29, 2005 7:17 PM

Well, isn't this what Federalism is all about? Fifty experiments in health care (or other issues)? Since I don't live in Minnesota, I say go ahead, whilst the rest of us rubberneck at the carnage.

Gideon has my sympathy.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at March 29, 2005 9:45 PM

Yes, you are paying for it yourself. But not for the plan you choose. You'll pay for the plan that the government decides what is right for you. Just like car insurance in New Jersey.

It's like the counter-argument I use on people who are for raising the minimum wage: "I agree, people should be paid enought to be dignified. And I think that for you, anything less that $200/hr is an insult to your dignity. Good luck finding your new job!"

Posted by: ray at March 30, 2005 2:27 AM


Why? If the market is as innovative as people claim there's no reason it won't offer a variety of different plans that meet the minimum requirement. If it isn't then we shouldn't pay obeisance to it.

Posted by: oj at March 30, 2005 8:23 AM

It isn't really a 'market' when the government mandates that ever elusive fairness (or complete coverage, or due process, or equitable standards, or essential services, or whatever other language you choose).

If a true cafeteria plan were offered, with protection against downstream lawsuits (as in, they wouldn't let me have that plan, and then I got sick, so now I'm going to sue), then I say go for it. But I have a hard time imagining the DLF supporting such a plan in MN. They won back seats in the 2004 election, and their main goal is to get rid of Pawlenty in 2006 and regain control of the legislature.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 30, 2005 10:53 AM

Even free markets require regulatory frameworks.

Posted by: oj at March 30, 2005 10:56 AM