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Health Reform Report: Too Long in the Waiting Room For MN

February 11, 2010

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A new report predicts trouble for rural Minnesotans if efforts to reform health care fail. Research from the Center for Rural Affairs shows that, if Congress does nothing to change the current system, rural residents could face increasingly serious financial and health consequences.

Jon Bailey, the Center's rural research and analysis program director, says the research predicts that, absent reform, one-third of Minnesotans in small towns would be uninsured, premium and out-of-pocket costs would nearly double, health care costs to both taxpayers and the insured would increase, as would the amount of uninsured costs written off by providers.

"This is about people, about families, and about small businesses, especially in rural areas. We have to understand that, if reform does not happen, there is a cost of inaction; there are severe consequences to inaction."

The benefits of health insurance coverage are enormous for all uninsured, adds Baily, but particularly for rural people who receive less-than-average preventive care and suffer higher rates of all chronic diseases.

"People with serious, but treatable chronic conditions, like diabetes, don't get treatment because they don't get diagnosed early enough. By the time they get diagnosed, it's too severe and they end up dying. All of that is because they lack health insurance."

The proposed bill in the U.S. Senate would not only expand coverage for rural Minnesotans, he says, but would provide more funding to the rural health care system to provide higher quality and increased access.

If reform passes, a typical rural family could be insulated from up to $16,000 a year in extra health care costs, according to the report.

The full report, Why Health Care Reform Can't Wait: The Benefits of Health Reform for Rural America, is available at

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MN