The Norman Transcript

Opinion

August 31, 2013

Oklahomans uninsured

NORMAN — More Oklahomans are going without health insurance. Census bureau reports from 2011 show the number of residents under 65 who lack health insurance increased by more than 4,000 in 2011.

The Tulsa World reports the overall percentage of uninsured did not change significantly because the number of residents in that age category also increased during that period.

Roughly 22 percent of Oklahomans in that age category lack health insurance. That figures to about 695,357 in 2011, according to a World story this past week.

Not surprisingly, low income groups had higher uninsured rates than the entire population. About a third of Oklahomans under 65 with family incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level have no insurance.

Even more could be impacted by year’s end. The state’s Insure Oklahoma program may expire by Dec. 31, and Gov. Mary Fallin is one of a handful of governors who has rejected an expansion of Medicaid that was allowed as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The lack of insurance puts even more burdens on the state’s public hospitals and other health care providers. Poor, sick Oklahomans end up in hospital emergency rooms. Those hospitals and clinics end up shifting the cost to those with health insurance.

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