More Than 1 in 5 Americans Remains Uninsured Across U.S. Metro Areas

Nearly half of adult residents living in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas metro area are uninsured, making it the highest area of uninsured adults in the metro U.S. for the second year in a row, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The figure is three times the national average of 16.9 percent; which is similar to the 17.1 percent uninsured rate in 2011, but more than 2008′s rate of 14.8 percent and 2009′s rate of 16.2 percent.

The Burlington-South Burlington, Vt., and Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass./N.H., metro areas had the lowest uninsured rates, at 4.1 and 4.3 percent, respectively.

The metro areas with the highest and lowest uninsured rates have changed little over time.

Nationally, Gallup finds Hispanics are among the most likely demographic group to be uninsured, at 40.1 percent. Five of the 10 metro areas with the highest uninsured rates have a Hispanic population of 45 percent or more, with two metro areas in Texas — McAllen-Edinburgh-Mission and El Paso — at 90.6 percent and 82.2 percent, respectively, according to 2010 U.S. census data. Other metro areas with large Hispanic populations include Florida and California; eight of the 10 areas with the highest uninsured rates are in Texas, Florida or California. This is consistent with what Gallup finds at the state level.

According to researchers, large discrepancies in health insurance coverage across U.S. metro areas continued in 2012, but this could change as healthcare reforms take effect. Starting Oct. 1, 2013, individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase qualified health benefit plans in a new competitive insurance marketplace. And, as of Jan. 1, 2014, all Americans will be required to carry health insurance. It remains to be seen how much this will affect the high uninsured rate in metro areas such as McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, and others.

The 2012 metro area data were collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Gallup categorizes U.S. metro areas according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s definition for Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and reports on all MSAs for which there are a minimum of 300 interviews available. Each MSA sample is weighted to ensure it is demographically representative of the population of that local area.

Source: Gallup, April 16, 2013:

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