Texas has highest uninsured rate in the country; illegal immigra - FOX34 Lubbock

Texas has highest uninsured rate in the country; illegal immigration may be one of the reasons for it

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Texas leads the country in the uninsured rate, as 16.6 percent of Texans are not covered by health insurance, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Conrad Lyford, a Texas Tech professor, said one of the biggest factors to this staggering number is illegal immigration.

"People that are not in the United States legally are generally not going to be insured in most localities, and in the state of Texas, they would not be. If those illegal immigrants have children that are citizens, again, the children might not have good services or insurance," Lyford said.

According to the Texas Medical Association, Hispanic people make up 62 percent of the uninsured. Nationally, it is only 33 percent. 

Texas also leads the national rate of uninsured children by five percent.

Lyford said undocumented immigrants are just one of three different populations in Texas contributing to the uninsured rate.

"We have 1.4 million illegal immigrants in Texas. That's one-third of your uninsured population right there. Then you have people connected to illegal immigrants that may not want to go in the system too, and there are uninformed populations that don't know about the availability of healthcare," Lyford said.

Michael Pullen, with Covenant Medical Group, said young people are one of the uninformed populations about health insurance. 

"They tend to not go see a doctor on a regular basis, and by the time they present their symptoms to a hospital, it's very expensive to treat them because they have multiple issues going on," Pullen said.

Lyford said another issue is the lack of health care accessibility in rural parts of the state.

"There are a lot of areas in Texas, especially in West Texas, and we have at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center a great effort to reach remote populations, but if you don't have a clinic or a facility nearby within 50 miles, in many cases, you don't get regular screenings and regular healthcare, so access is a big issue, especially in rural Texas," Lyford said.

All in all, Lyford said changes need to be made soon, if Texas no longer wants to lead the nation in uninsured rate.

"Reducing cost is going to be a big part of making the market function well for young Americans, according to their actual risk as well as illegal immigration. Until those are resolved, I think we'll stay the capital of uninsured in the state of Texas," Lyford said.

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