5 States with Highest Uninsured Rates

NOVEMBER 17, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor
States in the south and southwest regions of the country tend to have more uninsured residents, while northern states typically have more insured residents.

A new state ranking of insured Americans in the post-Affordable Care Act (ACA) world provides a view of where the country stands on health insurance, including other factors such as income level and race.

The number 1 cause of personal bankruptcy in the country is due to medical costs, NerdWallet reported. Americans are also more likely to experience difficulty paying medical bills or refuse treatment because of cost compared with many other developed countries.

Here are the top 5 states with the highest 2014 uninsured rates, according to WalletHub:

1.      Texas (19.06%)
2.      Alaska (17.21%)
3.      Florida (16.57%)
4.      Georgia (15.83%)
5.      Oklahoma (15.36%)

Meanwhile, the places with the highest percentages of insured residents in 2014 are:

1.      Massachusetts (3.28%)
2.      Vermont (4.95%)
3.      Hawaii (5.27%)
4.      District of Columbia (5.28%)
5.      Minnesota (5.88%)

Source: WalletHub

Among children, Massachusetts has the smallest percentage of uninsured kids, while Alaska has the highest, according to WalletHub. In 2014, Massachusetts also had the lowest percentage of uninsured adults, while Texas had the highest.

In terms of income, Massachusetts also ranked No. 1 for the lowest number of uninsured high- and low-income households, with Texas bringing up the rear with the highest number of uninsured low-income households. Income levels were considered low if they were below $50,000 annually and high if they were above $100,000 annually.

Meanwhile, Wyoming had the smallest difference in uninsured rates between black and white residents, while Hawaii had the smallest difference between Hispanic and white residents.

The biggest difference in uninsured rates between black and white residents was in Kansas. Mississippi saw the biggest difference in uninsured rates between Hispanic and white residents.

More Democratic-leaning states had fewer uninsured residents (average rank: 18.41) compared with the more Republican-leaning states (average rank: 34.54). WalletHub based these findings on the states’ votes in the 2012 presidential election.

John Large, assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, told WalletHub that the findings do show that the number of uninsured residents has dropped since the implementation of the ACA, but since the ranking was made with only 2 years of data, it is hard to say whether the drop was only because of the ACA.

“The only conclusion I can draw is that the ACA has had a positive impact in the drop of the number of adults insured,” Large said.

Some experts believe that the economic recovery has played a role in increasing insured rates.

Laura D. Hermer, associate professor of law at Hamline University School of Law, told WalletHub that she expects more Americans to get coverage in the next few years, but the ACA will probably not lead to 100% coverage for all Americans in its present form.

Since coverage is voluntary, residents may refuse to get covered, cannot afford to get covered, or are unaware of their options, she said.
 


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