Rate of those without health insurance remains unchanged; only Texas, Nevada higher

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ORLANDO, Florida — The rate of Floridians without health insurance stayed the same in 2013 from the previous year, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Twenty percent of Floridians lacked health insurance last year, down slightly from a rate of 20.1 percent in 2012. But the change was within the margin of error, rendering it insignificant.

Nationwide, the rate was 14.5 percent.

Florida ranked behind only Texas and Nevada in having the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation. Texas had a rate of 22.1 percent and Nevada's was 20.7 percent, but both those states showed improvement in lowering their rates year-over-year, unlike Florida.

Massachusetts had the nation's lowest rate at 3.7 percent.

Experts say Florida's large number of small businesses and its concentration of tourism-oriented service workers has contributed to the state's high rate of uninsured residents.

Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature last year decided against expanding Medicaid coverage to an estimated 1 million low-income Floridians under the federal health law.

Gov. Rick Scott, Senate Republicans, Democrats, Florida hospitals, health advocates and a mix of business and labor groups all supported a bill that would have drawn down more than $50 billion from the federal government over the next decade and allowed Floridians to purchase private insurance. But leaders in the GOP-led House refused to consider that proposal, saying they didn't want to take funds tied to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The Census survey showed that 3.8 million of Florida's 19.5 million residents were without health insurance. By comparison, New York State, which has around the same number of residents as Florida, had only 2 million residents without health insurance, or 10.7 percent.

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