Analysis of U.S. Census data shows Alabama leads the South in healthcare coverage

AUBURN – Analysts in the Center for Governmental Services at Auburn University say U.S. Census data released in September include some encouraging results for Alabama.

The state’s rate of persons without health insurance coverage in 2008, 11.9 percent, was the lowest rate recorded for Alabama in this decade. Alabama also has the lowest rate of uninsured residents in the southeastern states, besting Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“As long as there are a half-million Alabama residents without healthcare coverage, we can never be satisfied,” said Don-Terry Veal, director of the Center for Governmental Services. “However, the latest figures confirm that Alabama’s diverse economic growth and state policies are allowing employers and government to work together to provide more Alabama residents with region-leading healthcare.”

Auburn University researchers found that Alabama leads the region in the percentages of the population having private healthcare coverage and also in the percentage having employment-based coverage. Private healthcare plans are most common in Alabama, with 68 percent of all persons being covered by some sort of private health insurance.

Six in 10 Alabamians, or 61 percent, have employment-based private healthcare coverage. Medicare is the next most common form of coverage at 18 percent. Sixteen percent of state residents are covered by Medicaid plans and 4 percent by military plans.

Healthcare coverage for Alabama’s children is also a bright spot in the U.S. Census report. The data indicate that 96 percent of children under 18 living in Alabama have health insurance, a higher rate of coverage than any other state in the nine examined and the highest for Alabama in this decade. The Auburn analysis found that public plans like ALL Kids, Alabama’s SCHIP program, have been noteworthy for increasing coverage of children under 18. In the period 1999 to 2001, 28 to 29 percent of Alabama’s children were covered by a public plan. Currently, 37 percent of children have public plan coverage. Sixty-four percent of Alabama children have coverage under a private plan.

“Our public opinion surveys find that Alabamians place a great deal of emphasis on family and children, so it’s likely that employers, workers, child-welfare advocates and lawmakers all are responding to this priority by ensuring that a high percentage of children get covered by some type of healthcare plan,” said David Hill, associate director of the Center for Governmental Services.

To access the Center for Governmental Services’ full report, go to http://www.auburn.edu/outreach/cgs/SRL/SRL_Insurance.html.

Contact: Don-Terry Veal, (334) 844-4781 (vealdon@auburn.edu), or
David Hill, (334) 844-4867 (david.hill@auburn.edu)