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Gallup: Texas has highest percentage of uninsured residents

By Maryalene LaPonsie on March 12th, 2012

With 27.6 percent of its population uninsured, Texas holds the dubious distinction of being the state with the largest percentage of residents lacking health insurance coverage. That's according to recently released data from the 2011 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

Nationwide, 17.1 percent of Americans reportedly did not have medical insurance in 2011. States with the most uninsured residents appeared to be largely in the South and West, while Eastern states generally had the highest rates of insurance coverage.

State rankings for health insurance coverage

The 2011 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index interviewed more than 350,000 U.S. residents throughout the year, including at least 1,000 from each state. The index found the following states had the highest percentages of uninsured residents.

  1. Texas - 27.6 percent
  2. Mississippi - 23.5 percent
  3. Florida - 22.9 percent
  4. Oklahoma - 22.1 percent
  5. California - 22 percent

The 4.1 percent difference in insurance rates between Texas and Mississippi represents the largest gap between the two top states since Gallup first began tracking health insurance coverage in 2008.

On the other end of the spectrum, Massachusetts came out on top in terms of states with the lowest percentage of uninsured residents. The state has consistently ranked first for as long as Gallup has been measuring coverage rates. Massachusetts' low rate of uninsured individuals likely stems from a 2006 state law mandating nearly all its residents obtain health insurance coverage.

The five states with the most individuals enrolled in health insurance plans had less than 10 percent of their populations uninsured.

  1. Massachusetts - 4.9 percent
  2. Vermont - 8.6 percent
  3. Hawaii - 9.1 percent
  4. Connecticut - 9.7 percent
  5. Minnesota - 9.8 percent

Limited change in insurance coverage rates

Despite efforts by states to make affordable health insurance more accessible, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index has not found any noticeable year-to-year decrease in the percentage of uninsured residents in any state. On the contrary, at the national level, the percentage of those uninsured has increased from 14.8 percent in 2008 to 17.1 percent in 2011.

Among individual states that have seen their number of uninsured residents rise, Rhode Island has experienced the greatest increase. From 2008-2011, the number of its uninsured residents rose 4.3 percent.

However, that might change in 2014. That's when the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is scheduled to mandate all U.S. residents maintain medical insurance coverage. Currently, the law is being challenged in court and is expected to be taken up by the Supreme Court this year.

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