Health Coverage, Quality Depend Heavily On Geography

An analysis of Census date finds that health care quality and coverage is closely connected to geography.

The Associated Press reports: "Where someone lives makes a difference in whether or not that person has health insurance. Census data released this week shows a vast geographic inequality in the uninsured that has been shaped by an area's state laws, population makeup and jobs. Residents in vast swaths of the Southwest are many times more likely to lack health insurance than residents in pockets of the Northeast and upper Midwest."

Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured residents and Massachusetts, which enacted health reform in 2006, has the lowest. "The extremes range from Democratic U.S. Rep. Gene Green's congressional district in Houston, where 40.1 percent of the population is uninsured, to Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern's district around Worcester, Mass., where only 3.4 percent of the population has no coverage," according to the AP. 

State policies, employment characteristics and demographics all contribute to the geographic diversity, the AP found.  Further, some states are "more generous" with their Medicaid eligibility standards.  "An Associated Press statistical analysis showed that a county's percentage of residents without health insurance was influenced by its percentage of Hispanics; the percentage of residents ages 20 to 24 and 60 to 64; and the percentage of residents working in farming, fishing, hunting, mining, construction, real estate, support positions such as secretary or janitor and hotel and food service workers. Salaries matter too, as well as the presence of government and union jobs" (Schneider, 9/24).

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