clear
Monday July 6th, 2015 10:35PM

Finding uninsured Americans by the numbers

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wanted: Millions of uninsured Americans willing to give President Barack Obama's health care law a chance.

With time running out, it may not be so hard for the administration and its allies to find them. A study for The Associated Press finds that the uninsured aren't scattered evenly across the country: half of them live in just 116 of the nation's 3,143 counties.

That means outreach targeted to select areas can pay off big, reaching millions of prospective customers needed to stabilize the law's new insurance markets.

The pattern also holds true for the younger uninsured, the health care overhaul's most coveted demographic. The study found that half of uninsured people ages 19-39 live in 108 counties. Their premiums are needed to offset the cost of care for older adults.

With most of the bugs out of the HealthCare.gov website, the Obama administration is using the geography of the uninsured to write a playbook for its closing sign-up campaign.

Enrollment ends March 31 for subsidized private insurance, available to people who don't have coverage at work. But many who could benefit are procrastinating. Some people are confused by the new law. Others don't think they will qualify for help.

"Our efforts are aimed at making sure we can raise awareness in areas with the largest concentration of uninsured people," said Julie Bataille, communications director for the rollout at the federal Health and Human Services Department.

The administration has done its own geographical research, drilling down even below the county level. Officials said the pattern coincides with the findings of AP's study, which was conducted by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota.

With their own research, federal officials are focusing on 25 key metro areas. The top two are in Texas: Dallas and Houston. Next come Miami and Atlanta. In the Northeast, the northern New Jersey megalopolis and Philadelphia are on the list. Midwest markets include Detroit, Cleveland and Indianapolis. Southern cities also include Nashville, Tenn., and Charlotte, N.C.

The numbers help determine where to send HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to pitch the law. They're guiding the placement of television ads aimed at younger people, scheduled to start airing as the Winter Olympics open this week.

Washington is largely steering clear of states that are leading their own sign-up efforts, such as California, New York and Illinois.

The research for the AP by the Minnesota health data center found that just 13 counties account for 20 percent of the uninsured. The top county, Los Angeles, has more than 2 million uninsured people, or about 5 percent of the national total.

"The administration is well aware of where the uninsured population lives," said Lynn Blewett, the center's director. "It's to their benefit to get out to the states where they are going to have the biggest bang for their buck."

Uninsured Americans generally live in major metro areas, but data-driven research can also help in rural states with seemingly low numbers of uninsured people, said Brett Fried, a senior researcher at the center. Census files that provide coverage information at the ZIP code level can be used to tease out concentrations of uninsured. Bataille said the government also has an outreach effort tailored to rural areas.

The Minnesota researchers used Census data from the 2011 Small Area Health Insurance Estimates, the only source of annual estimates of uninsured people for all counties. They were not able to filter out people who entered the country illegally and thus are not eligible for coverage under the law. Blewett said that group, although numerous, is not large enough to skew the overall geographic pattern.

High on the list of places with lots of uninsured people is Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago. It ranks third nationally in the total number of uninsured, and third in uninsured young adults, with more than 460,000, the study found.

Among them is Katina Rapier, who recently filled out her paperwork during an Enroll America event at her community college. Enroll America is a nonprofit that works closely with the administration.

At 25, Rapier aspires to own a chain of women's clothing stores. But she's been uninsured since she turned 18 and says it's a struggle to afford her vitally important asthma medication. She thought she had missed the deadline to apply for coverage, not realizing that open enrollment runs through the end of March.

"If it can help me get safe medication, I'm all for it," Rapier said of the health care law.

No matter what the numbers say, she doesn't think the administration will have an easy time signing up young adults. "They think health is something that you worry about when you get older," Rapier said.

The White House originally set a goal of signing up 7 million people in the new insurance markets, and the administration says it has reached the 3 million mark. Website problems - federal as well as state - have cast doubt on whether original goal will be met.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 6 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 6 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 6 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 6 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 6 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 6 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 6 months ago )
Local/State News
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 6 months ago )
Conviction of Putin foe sets off protest in Moscow
President Vladimir Putin's chief political foe was convicted along with his brother on Tuesday in a fraud case widely seen as a vendetta by the Kremlin, triggering one of Russia's boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.
6:03PM ( 6 months ago )
More Georgians signing up for health insurance
A federal report says more Georgians have selected health insurance plans through a federally facilitated marketplace.
4:16PM ( 6 months ago )
Politics
US stocks slip amid global sell-off after Greek 'no' vote
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks in the U.S. fell broadly following drops in overseas markets as Greeks voted to reject creditor conditions for more loans, but the losses weren't as steep as many had feared.Wit...
6:32PM ( 4 hours ago )
Greece enters uncharted territory after referendum 'no' vote
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece lurched into uncharted territory and an uncertain future in Europe's common currency Sunday after voters overwhelmingly rejected demands by international creditors for mor...
7:06AM ( 15 hours ago )
Man shoots off firework from top of his head, dies instantly
CALAIS, Maine (AP) — A 22-year-old man who was drinking and celebrating the Fourth of July tried to launch a firework off the top of his head, killing him instantly, authorities said Sunday.Devon Stap...
8:41PM ( 1 day ago )
Back at work: Congress facing busy agenda, funding deadline
WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress return from July Fourth fireworks and parades Tuesday facing a daunting summer workload and an impending deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown in the...
3:02PM ( 1 day ago )
Obama: Freedom is paid for by men and women of US military
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says U.S. service members make it possible to enjoy the "incredible blessings" in the greatest country on earth.He says "freedom is not free" but is paid for b...
12:45AM ( 1 day ago )