Oklahoma climbed to No. 2 in nation in the percentage of residents without health insurance coverage, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
An estimated 14.2 percent of the state population did not have health insurance in 2017, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Alaska, which had held the No. 2 spot, saw a decline in the percentage of uninsured from 14 percent in 2016 to 13.7 percent the following year. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s percentage increased from 13.8 percent in 2016.
The margin of error for the Oklahoma uninsured rate is plus or minus 0.3 percent, meaning the 2017 rate could be between 13.9 percent and 14.5 percent.
Texas remains No. 1 in the nation in uninsured rate with 17.3 percent of the state population without health insurance.
David Blatt, executive director of the nonpartisan Oklahoma Policy Institute, said one should always consider margin of error when evaluating data.
“But even if Oklahoma ends up with the third- or fourth-highest uninsured rate accounting for the margin of error, we are still among the states doing the worst job of providing health insurance for our citizens,” Blatt said.
The result is it “leaves far too many Oklahomans unable to see a doctor or get needed medication.”
Blatt attributed the high ranking to “our continued refusal to bring home our federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage for working-age adults.”
Oklahoma is one of 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage for its population.
In 2012, Gov. Mary Fallin, like many Republican state leaders, rejected expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Fallin cited the financial burden to the state among other reasons for opting out of the program, while others said it would save the state money in the long run.
Nationwide, the uninsured rate was 8.7 percent in 2017, compared to 8.6 in 2016.
In states that expanded Medicaid eligibility, the uninsured rate in 2017 was 6.5 percent, compared with 12.2 percent in states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility, according to a Census Bureau report.
The uninsured ranks includes those who only had coverage through the Indian Health Service. IHS coverage is not considered to be comprehensive.
Highest, lowest uninsured rate states
Top uninsured rate states, 2017
Top insured rate states
|District of Columbia||3.8|