The US Insurance Gap

Graph from N Engl J Med 2012; 367:3-6July 5, 2012

The graph above comes from an article in the New England Journal of Medicine by David C. Radley, Ph.D. MPH and Cathy Schoen, M.S.  It shows the distribution of uninsured adults across the United States.   Large parts of Texas, New Mexico and Alaska have over 50% uninsured adults.  Wisconsin and Massachusetts have less than 15% uninsured adults.  The graph is the result of an analysis of US Census Bureau data from 2009-2010.

The areas with low rates of insurance are also the areas with other health problems.  The authors conclude the uninsured areas are associated with low quality care,  poor access to care, unsafe prescribing, increased visits to ER for avoidable conditions, and more avoidable deaths.

The bottom line is the US healthcare system is designed for high cost and low quality care especially for those who choose not to have insurance or those who can not afford insurance.  Unless a person is extremely wealthy it is very unwise to forgo insurance in this environment.  The maldistribution of insurance enhances the argument for those in states with high rates of insurance not to pay more in taxes to cover those in states with low rates of insurance.  It seems strange that the states with enhanced revenue from oil and gas can’t seem to correct the insurance gap.

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