1 in 5 Oklahomans Have No Health Insurance Coverage as Flu Season Approaches says 2HealthInsurance Experts

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NEWS: US Census Bureau announces nearly 20% uninsured in Oklahoma - Tulsa leads state in number of at-risk residents as Oklahomans struggle to find affordable health insurance before flu season strikes.

The US Census bureau has announced 18.7 percent Oklahomans do not have health insurance. That’s more than 693,000 people across the state.

Tulsa leads the state with 22.8 percent of the city’s population living without health insurance.

“That’s nearly one-quarter of the population for Tulsa and nearly one in five across the state as whole,” said Cameron Blake of Whirlpool Marketing, reporting for online health insurance quotes portal 2healthinsurance.net. “Looking at the statistics by race, economic and other factors, health insurance coverage changes dramatically.”

The report is based on 2011 estimates from the Census Bureau. It also shows a not surprising result that health insurance coverage varies by demographic group. Wealth and education were a good indicators of having insurance. Being a native of Oklahoma and white were also indicators of insurance coverage.

About one-third of the state’s Hispanics had no health insurance. People with jobs were also more likely to not have coverage, compared to children and seniors. The Census estimates 26 percent of the Sooner State’s residents 18-64 do not have health insurance.

With the flu season approaching and in what is projected to be one of the coldest winters yet, this trend has experts concerned.

“This is a major policy matter for the state right now because of the federal affordable care act,” Mr. Blake said. “The new law, if Oklahoma agrees to participate, will pay for health insurance for nearly everyone in Oklahoma with federal funds for three years. After that, the state has to start contributing to the cost.”

Oklahoma’s cost, under the law, would be capped at 10 percent by 2020. In a cash-strapped state and a poor economy, that money might be hard to come by, hence the hesitation on lawmakers’ part, Mr. Blake said.

State officials estimate the rolls of government-paid health insurance would grow by 250,000 people if the state accepts the federal proposal. At that, everyone in the state would not be covered. The same state figures show the uninsured population would drop below 12 percent (source: statecoverage.org).

This matters because the uninsured tend to use emergency rooms for primary care. That slows the response times in emergency rooms and puts an additional burden of indigent care on hospitals. The bills for indigent care are passed along to insurance companies and people able to pay for hospital visits.

“It’s definitely something Gov. Mary Fallin needs to think about,” Mr. Blake said. “Whatever she decides is going to have a long term impact on the state and the citizens.”

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Cameron Blake
Whirlpool Marketing
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