More Minnesotans have health coverage but suits keep rising

(AP) – The number of Minnesotans who have health insurance is rising but so is the number of state residents struggling to pay their medical bills.

A Star Tribune analysis of court records finds in the past year, Minnesota’s main hospital and clinic groups filed nearly 9,000 lawsuits against people with large or long-standing medical debts. That’s a sharp increase since 2005.

Medical debt was widely expected to decline as more Americans got health insurance following federal health reform.

Instead, shifts in the insurance market are pushing more people toward high-deductible policies that can require them to pay as much as $7,500 before any benefits kick in.

Chief financial officer Dan Fromm of Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services says patients are “being exposed to a greater proportion of their bill.”

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