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Alabama holds the lowest uninsured rate

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October 7, 2009

By Chris Vessell bio | email

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Alabama has more people covered by health insurance than any other state in the Southeast. That's what an Auburn University study is revealing this week. The new findings arrive on the heels of an intense healthcare debate.

So who are those 11.9% of Alabamians who are falling through the cracks? "It's the middle sometimes that may be sometimes referred to as the working poor. It's that group that perhaps has the highest rate of uninsurable," Dr. David Hill, AU Center for Governmental Services said.

Opelika resident O.D. Howell worked at a textile mill up until 2 years ago when he lost his job. "First thing they are going to ask you when you go to the doctors office is do you have insurance and you say no and sometimes they don't exactly say we can't do anything for you but some of them will though," O.D. Howell said.

Howell says he pays what he can out of pocket to receive treatment for pancreatic cancer. "So far I'm surviving. I went to the doctor and I've done took all my chemotherapy and radiation," he added.

Hill says that young people who are trying to make their way in life often go without insurance. "A lot of young people 18-34 years of age tend to be uninsured," Hill added.

"It's not always necessarily who you think might be uninsured. For example, we know from most recent data - Lee County has a high percentage of uninsured although it's a relatively affluent community," Hill said.

We spoke with numerous Auburn University students who have either gone without insurance for a while or know someone who has. "College students are working on minimum wage jobs. How are you gong to be able to afford medications if you don't have health insurance getting paid $7.25 an hour?" Shelby Million, an Auburn University student asked.

So with these people falling through cracks why does Alabama have the lowest uninsured rate in the region? Hill points to major manufacturers moving into the state. "It may be that that's forcing other companies that might be competing with those employees to offer healthcare coverage," Hill said.

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