Bringing the Economy Home

Idaho’s Uninsured: Rural Counties Post Highest Rates

U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Health Insurance Estimates

To see the Census Bureau's interactive map and full data set, click on the image above.

In five Idaho counties, at least 29 percent of residents are uninsured.  In two — Clark and Owyhee — the rate tops 32 percent.  That’s much above Idaho’s state average of 20.3 percent, which is itself higher than the national average of just over 16 percent.

The county-level data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Health Insurance Estimates for 2010, released today.  The estimates don’t include people older than 65, who are eligible for Medicare.

Clark and Owyhee Counties are best described as remote and rural.  With a total population of just 982, Clark County has the fewest people in the state.  

“Clark County has no medical facilities at all,” Eastern Idaho Public Health District Director Richard Horne explained.  Not even a pharmacist, he said.  Census statistics show the county is more than 40 percent Latino.  Its median income is considerably below the state average.

The Census Bureau’s county-level data become available as two working groups appointed by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter continue to consider the state’s next steps with regard to the federal health care law.

Those groups are weighing whether the state should create its own health insurance exchange, and whether it should opt into the Medicaid expansion provided for under the Affordable Care Act.

Idaho’s rate of uninsured residents is tied with South Carolina’s, and is 13th highest in the nation.  Texas’s rate is highest, at more than 26 percent.


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