Health Care In The States

Census: More Than 850,000 Texas Kids Lack Health Coverage

By Becca Aaronson, The Texas Tribune

September 20th, 2013, 5:29 AM

This story was produced in partnership with

Texas continued to have the highest rate of people without health insurance in 2012 at 24.6 percent, or more than 6 million residents, according to the Current Population Survey estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week.

Texas also has the largest number of children without health insurance and the highest rate of poor adults without health insurance, according to 2012 American Community Survey estimates.

More than 852,000 Texas children lacked health insurance in 2012, according to the ACS estimates, which are taken from a random sampling of households throughout the year. California, which has 2.2 million more children than Texas, had the second-highest number of uninsured children at 717,000.

Texas also had the highest rate of adults making below 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold — lower than $15,415 for an individual or $26,344 for a family of three — who lack insurance, at 55 percent. Those people would have qualified for Medicaid coverage if the state had chosen to expand eligibility under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“There is just an awful lot of people priced out of the [health insurance] market in Texas because of our Wild West regulatory approach on the rate side,” said Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities.

She attributed the high rate of uninsured to the lack of regulations governing Texas’ individual and large employer health insurance markets, the exclusion of most poor parents and all other adults from the state’s Medicaid program, and the lack of employer-sponsored coverage in many of Texas’ predominant industries, such as agriculture, food service and construction, among other factors.

“I think that we have an unhealthy obsession with the uninsured rate in Texas,” said John Davidson, health policy analyst at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. “It distracts us from the much more important question of health care for the indigent population. Insurance and care are not the same things.”

Alternative health care models, such as programs that offer sliding-scale payment rates for low-income people, can contain costs without reducing access to care, he said. For example, he cited the CareLink program run by the University Health System in Bexar County, which provides payment plans and sliding-scale rates for families who make less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

“Being on an insurance plan doesn’t mean you have good health care or you have access to health care,” Davidson said. “I think this is most obvious when you look at our Medicaid program,” which he said has “terrible problems with access to care.”

The ACS estimates that 1.6 million adults with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold had insurance in 2012, while 2 million were uninsured.

9 Responses to “Census: More Than 850,000 Texas Kids Lack Health Coverage”

  1. greg says:

    Worth repeating…

    “Texas continued to have the highest rate of people without health insurance in 2012 at 24.6 percent, or more than 6 million residents, according to the Current Population Survey estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week.”

    It’s Texas! It’s George W. Bush! It’s Rick Perry! You were expecting anything more from the most backward state in the union?

  2. Wayne says:

    Texas IS different!
    We have low unemployment, growth and opportunity.
    We have jobs.
    We have a can do attitude.
    We are not fooled by the Medicaid expansion gambit Feds are trying to foist on the states (where they pay for 3 years and we pay for the rest of eternity).
    We have “More guns, Less crime” (see John Lott’s book by the same title).
    We have John Davidson – “Insurance and care are not the same things.”’
    And finally, we like Texas so leave us alone.

  3. Don says:

    Texas also has the largest number of illegal aliens, more than any other state. They get fake Social Security cards and access the Texas health care “safety net” (which is funded by property taxes) and have their babies and work under the radar. They come here for jobs and so their children can be American citizens.
    So, Greg, don’t let your alligator mouth overload your parakeet brain. You know not of what you speak!

  4. Jake says:

    Texans sent Ted Cruz to Congress. How crazy is that? Senator Ted Cruz wants to defund Obamacare. Does Cruz offer a better healthcare reform idea? Nope! I guess Ted Cruz is proud that 850,000 Texas kids lack health coverage, huh? I guess Ted Cruz is proud that 25 percent of Texans are uninsured, huh? If I was Ted Cruz, I would be ashamed of the Texas healthcare system. How is it possible that any member of Congress from Texas would propose defunding Obamacare when Texas has the worst record in the nation with regard to getting their residents decent healthcare. No other state in the nation will benefit more from Obamacare than Texas. The sad part is, Republicans must have spiked the water down there and managed to get Texans to believe a lie.

  5. Texas Ed says:

    Sorry, Don, try again. California has an estimated 2.55 million illegal aliens, WAYYY more than Texas (1.65 m). As a share of the state population: about the same, 6.8% in CA, 6.7% in TX. Those are estimates, of course, but given that CA has 36 million residents –1.5 times the TX population of 26 m — you’d expect California to have more of pretty much anything. Yet, Texas has more uninsured kids, because its elected officials have decided they’d rather make us pay for their care through your property taxes or insurance premiums when those kids show up at the local hospital ER. Instead of getting help with federal tax dollars, like California chose to do.

  6. greg says:

    Texas has jobs alright! Including lots of low-paying ones! From 2007-2010, number of Texans earning minimum wage or less rose 150 percent, or 330,000 jobs. If you want to work for poverty wages, then go to Texas! Folks in Texas have no problem earning $7.25 an hour!

  7. greg says:

    By the way, if you go to Texas thinking you’ll work for an employer that offers healthcare benefits, better think again! Texas ranks at or near the bottom in that category too! Texas employers agree with Rick Perry when it comes to healthcare coverage. In Texas, healthcare insurance is for sissies! Real Texans don’t get sick, right? Duh!

  8. Jez says:

    Very quick fact check google >child dying cancer by state. Texas is HORRIFYING and that is just cancer. Check out infant mortality, maternal death rates… Obviously your sliding scale is NOT working!

  9. Tom says:

    This article describes what Senator Ted Cruz has in mind for America’s healthcare system.