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Minnesota Best At Health Coverage

Minnesota has the lowest percentage of adults without health insurance of any state and Texas has the highest, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which seeks to promote health coverage for all Americans. It noted that a significant portion of the uninsured in the country are employed.

"There is an old image that people who are uninsured don't work or are on public assistance," said Stuart Schear, a foundation employee. "That's never really been accurate and is completely inaccurate today."

The study uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2003. States with the highest rate of uninsured adults were: Texas, 30.7 percent; Louisiana, 26.4; and New Mexico, 26 percent.

Those were the same states with the highest percentages of uninsured adults with jobs: Texas, 26.6 percent; Louisiana, 22.6 percent; and New Mexico, 22.6 percent.

Schear said most of the uninsured make a modest living. The poverty level for a family of four amounts to about $19,000 a year, and most of the uninsured earn incomes between that level and twice the rate of poverty.

The states with the lowest uninsured rates among all adults were: Minnesota, 8.3 percent; Hawaii, 9.8 percent; and Delaware, 10.2 percent.

Again, those tended to be the states that fared best when it came to the lowest uninsured rates for adults with jobs: Minnesota, 6.9 percent, and Hawaii, 8.5 percent. The District of Columbia had 8.9 percent.

Schear said the foundation did not make a particular policy recommendation to reduce the number of uninsured — only that there are myriad methods that lawmakers should consider, including tax credits that serve as incentives to buy insurance, or a government-provided insurance benefit. He said the public is more focused on the issue than elected officials.
By Kevin Freking