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Counting the uninsured, county by county

Filed by KOSU News in Public Insight Network.
August 31, 2012

In August 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau issued county-level data about the rates of Americans with and without health insurance. Data is from 2010. (Map by U.S. Census Bureau)

This month, the U.S. Census Bureau issued county-level data comparing the percentage of Americans with and without health insurance. Data is from 2010. (Map by U.S. Census Bureau)

The U.S. Census Bureau just released a huge pile of new county-level data on uninsured Americans, and while the figures are from 2005 to 2010 – it takes the Bureau a while to compile and produce these reports – they’re quite impressive in their scope.

The Census Bureau has calculated the percentage of people who lack health insurance in almost every county in America, and has broken those numbers down by race, gender, age and income. You can search for your county and see how it compares to the rest of the country, or generate maps that display uninsured rates within a state.

The county with the lowest rate of uninsured people — 3.6 percent –  is Norfolk County in Massachusetts, where most residents are required to have health insurance. Hudspeth County, Texas, has the highest rate, with 41.4 percent of its residents uninsured.

The new figures raise some interesting questions: Why are there such dramatic variations among counties? Why do some of the numbers change dramatically from year to year? What stories do the data tell us about insurance disparities among race and ethnic groups or genders? (For example, Hudspeth Countyis 78 percent Hispanic, while Norfolk County is 83 percent white)?

Check out the data for yourself, and if you have any insight into what it means in your community, please get in touch by emailing me at sfreemark@mpr.org.

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