Study Shows Texas Leads Nation in Uninsured Rates

(CN) – More than one-third of all counties in the U.S. reported uninsured rates below 10% in 2017 but Texas bucked the trend with the highest rates in the country, as a quarter of residents in 39 counties don’t have health insurance.

(Image via U.S. Census Bureau Small Area Health Insurance Estimates program)

While states like Illinois, New York, Kentucky and West Virginia had the lowest uninsured rates in every county, the percentage of people in every Texas county without health insurance was above 10% as of two years ago, according to a Census Bureau report released Tuesday.

Though Texas was not the only state that saw uninsured rates above 10% – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming all had counties that exceeded that level – the Lone Star State had the highest number of counties in the U.S. above 10% uninsured.

Uninsured rates have fallen nationwide since the implementation of many provisions of the Affordable Care Act in 2014. The year before that,only 130 U.S. counties (4.1%) had rates below 10%. Today, 38.4% of all counties nationwide have estimated uninsured rates below 10%. 

However, of the 254 counties in Texas, 39 reported the highest uninsured rates in the country – 25.1% and above. For comparison, only Oklahoma and Florida had more than one county with uninsured rates that high.

The highest concentration of uninsured people in Texas is in the panhandle to the north, out west toward, but not including, El Paso, and on the southern tip along the border with Mexico. The highest measured uninsured rate in Texas – 31% — was in Hidalgo County along the southern border.

Notably, many of the highest uninsured Texas counties, particularly along the southern border, are home to higher concentrations of Hispanics. However, the uninsured trend along the southern border was not seen in other border states, including New Mexico, Arizona and California. In fact, those three states reported uninsured rates in the two lowest brackets, even along the border.

Only 13 Texas counties had comparable uninsured rates to the other border states, and those counties were almost exclusively metropolitan areas, including Houston, Austin and Dallas.

A graphic provided by the Census Bureau shows Texas stands in stark contrast to the rest of the country. While some states reported statewide uninsured rates below 10%, the majority of Texas counties reported uninsured rates from 20.1 to 25% – more than double the uninsured rate in many states to the northeast.

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