South Leads in Workers Without Health Coverage
A new study by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation reveals that lack of health insurance isn't just a growing problem for laid off or otherwise unemployed workers. More than 20 million working adults don't have coverage, and in eight states -- clustered in the Sunbelt -- at least one in five working adults is uninsured.
States with the highest rates of workers without uninsurance are Texas (27 percent), New Mexico (23 percent), Louisiana (23 percent), Florida (22 percent), Montana (21 percent), Oklahoma (21 percent), Nevada (20 percent), and Arkansas (20 percent).
That closely matches the rankings for the overall uninsured; the top three are Texas, 30.7 percent; Louisiana, 26.4; and New Mexico, 26 percent.
These numbers are especially startling when you consider that Congress is nearing approval of $10 billion in cuts to Medicaid, the program used by 45 million adults to fill the gaps.
States are also preparing to make cutbacks in state spending on health programs, in part because of the heavy burden placed on them by employers like Wal-Mart that have such low pay and benefits that workers are forced to rely on government assistance.
Our nation's inability to provide basic health coverage for its people is a crisis that is just about to get a lot worse.
Chris Kromm is executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies and publisher of the Institute's online magazine, Facing South.