Those who are poor, minorities and living on the Eastern Shore, Baltimore City or Prince George's County are more likely to be uninsured, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Wednesday.
The Small Area Health Insurance Estimates of health care coverage look at the nation's 3,140 counties and is considered the only source for single-year estimates of health insurance. Though, local health officials have long identified these groups and areas as in need of expanded coverage.
About 12.9 percent of Marylanders were uninsured in 2009, according to the data. Somerset (20.5) and Caroline (16.9) counties, on the Eastern Shore, had the highest rates of uninsured. Howard (8.1) and Harford (9.4), both in the Baltimore metro area, had the lowest rates of uninsured.
Baltimore City (16.5) and Prince George's County (16.3), with larger numbers of minorities and low-income residents, also had high rates of uninsured. In general, about 8.7 percent of whites, 14.5 percent of blacks and 33.9 percent of Hispanics were uninsured.
Collection of the data was partially funded by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which uses the information to identify women who need free cancer screenings.
The Census Bureau notes that the federal health care reform law will extend coverage through Medicaid to more low income people, and this study will show the impact in future years.
State-level information was collected for 2010, and there were slightly fewer uninsured in Maryland (12.7), ranking it 13th among the state for coverage.
Massachusetts (5.2), Hawaii (8.9) and Washington, D.C. (9) had the lowest rates of uninsured. Texas (26.3), Florida (25.3) and Nevada (25.1) had the highest rates.