Ten States Dying for Health Coverage

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10. Nevada
> Excess deaths from a lack of insurance (per 100,000): 11.83
> Pct. of population uninsured: 22.6% (2nd highest)
> Pct. living below the poverty line: 14.9% (tied for 23rd highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 77.59 years (14th lowest)

Nearly 23% of Nevadans lack health insurance, the second-highest proportion of all the states in the country. At the same time, the state also has comparatively few people who are eligible for either Medicare (13.44%) or Medicaid (11%). Few states spend less per capita on health care than Nevada, which spent $5,735 per person in 2009. The state also had the nation’s highest average unemployment rate in 2010 at 13.7%, which may help contribute to residents’ inability to obtain insurance.

9. Georgia
> Excess deaths from a lack of insurance (per 100,000): 11.95
> Pct. of population uninsured: 19.7% (5th highest)
> Pct. living below the poverty line: 17.9% (tied for 9th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 77.09 years (10th lowest)

With a 10.2% unemployment rate in 2010 and 17.9% of residents living below the poverty line, many Georgians simply cannot afford health care. Additionally, the state of Georgia spent just $5,467 on health care in 2009, the third-lowest figure among all states that year. The state’s ability to provide for its residents is limited. Just 16% of Georgians were in the state Medicaid program in 2010, far lower than many other states.

8. Oklahoma
> Excess deaths from a lack of insurance (per 100,000): 12.02
> Pct. of population uninsured: 18.9% (7th highest)
> Pct. living below the poverty line: 16.9% (14th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.6 years (5th lowest)

It can hardly be said that Oklahomans are healthy. Among all states, Oklahoma has the third-highest percentage of adults who smoke, the sixth-highest rate of heart disease death, the seventh-highest obesity rate and a lower proportion of adults who consume fruit twice a day than any other state. Making matters worse, Oklahoma spends just over $6,500 per capita on health care — one of the lowest amounts in the United States. Relatively few residents have employer-based health coverage, and many residents cannot otherwise afford private insurance because the median household income in the state is just $42,072 — one of the lowest figures in the country.

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7. West Virginia
> Excess deaths from a lack of insurance (per 100,000): 12.03
> Pct. of population uninsured: 14.6% (24th highest)
> Pct. living below the poverty line: 18.1% (8th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.16 years (2nd lowest)

West Virginia residents have the second-shortest life expectancy among all 50 states. Contributing to shorter life spans are the 26.8% of West Virginians who smoke, a higher rate than in any other state. Additionally, the Mountain State has some of the highest rates of heart disease deaths, adult obesity and diabetes in the U.S. Perhaps indicative of the cost of such poor health factors is that there are more prescription drugs filled per capita in West Virginia than in any other state.

6. Florida
> Excess deaths from a lack of insurance (per 100,000): 12.06
> Pct. of population uninsured: 21.3% (3rd highest)
> Pct. living below the poverty line: 16.5% (16th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.7 years (12th highest)

The sheer number of excess deaths from a lack of insurance in Florida is staggering: 12,336 from 2005 through 2010. The driving factor for this imposing total is that 21.3% of the population is uninsured — the third-highest rate among all states. Floridians may have difficulty affording health insurance — median income was just $44,400 in 2010. Meanwhile, only 45.7% of residents have employer-based health insurance, while just 15.6% of residents received Medicaid benefits. Both of these rates are among the lowest in the country.