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Health care coverage uneven among U.S. cities

As far as health care coverage goes, it's all about location, location, location.

Large discrepancies in health insurance coverage across U.S. metro areas continued in 2012, Gallup reported Tuesday.

Nearly half of adult residents living in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, metro area continue to be uninsured — about three times the national average of 16.9 percent. This makes it the U.S. metro area with the highest percentage of adults lacking health insurance for the second year in a row, according to results from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

On a state level, the Lone Star State has the highest uninsured rate in the country — the 28.8 percent of adult Texans lacking health coverage in 2012 was the highest for any state since Gallup and Healthways started tracking insurance coverage in 2008.

The Burlington-South Burlington, Vt., and Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H., metro areas had the lowest uninsured rates, at 4.1 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively. Springfield, Mass. (4.8 percent); Worcester, Mass. (5.6 percent); and Ann Arbor, Mich. (6.3 percent) rounded out the top five metro areas with the lowest uninsured rates.

Among the cities with the highest uninsured rates, in addition to McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas, were: El Paso, Texas (31.7 percent); Yakima, Wash. (31 percent); Naples-Marco Island, Fla. (30 percent); and Visalia-Porterville, Calif. (29.8 percent).

Nationally, Hispanics are among the most likely demographic groups 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.

See our infographic: The Hispanic market: Top 7 metro areas

The nationwide adult uninsured rate of 16.9 percent in 2012 was similar to the 17.1 percent in 2011, but remains up from 2008 (14.8 percent) and 2009 (16.2 percent). The metro areas with the highest and lowest uninsured rates have changed little over time, Gallup noted.

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) aims to expand coverage, it’s unknown how much uninsured rates will change in the coming years. A major component of the law, the new health insurance exchanges, will be available for online and telephone enrollments beginning Oct. 1. Coverage begins on Jan. 1, 2014.

The exchanges are a core component of the individual mandate that will require all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a fine. As a result, tens of millions of previously uninsured Americans are expected to gain access to health insurance.

See also:

Five states with the highest uninsured rates

PPACA spurs rising interest in self-funded plans

Young adult coverage used most for pregnancy, substance abuse

Originally published on BenefitsPro. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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