Texas' High Rate of Uninsured Hurting the Economy, Study Says
By Sean Price

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Texas has the highest percentage and number of people without health insurance in the United States, which could cause long-term damage to the state’s economy, says a study released this week by the Texas Alliance for Health Care.

If state leaders fail to address this problem, the number of uninsured Texans younger than 65 will jump from 4.8 million — or about 17 percent of the population — in 2016 to 6.1 million by 2040, according to “The Impact of Uninsurance on Texas’ Economy.”

Despite Texas' robust economy, the lack of health insurance would cause hardships for hospitals, physicians, and ordinary Texans, says Doug Curran, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association, which is a member of the Alliance.

“If [Texans] are not properly cared for and supported and empowered, then the people we really need to keep our business environment pristine will begin to drift away,” Dr. Curran said. “It's going to hurt all of us."

Among the study’s findings:

  • In 2016, the cost of lower lifetime earnings and worse health for uninsured Texans was $57 billion. Barring any change in policy, that cost will rise to $178.5 billion by 2040;
  • The $3.5 billion price tag for hospitals and physicians who provide unsubsidized and uncompensated care in 2016 will rise to $12.4 billion by 2040 without a change in policy; and
  • The value of lost earnings and poor health due to uninsurance in Texas is estimated to be $178.5 billion in 2040 (or $74 billion in 2016 dollars).

"I think our job as leaders in this area [as members of the Alliance] is to convince our people and our leader that, look, it's just good preparation [to reduce the number of uninsured Texans]," Dr. Curran said. "It's just good economics."

The Texas Alliance for Health Care is made up of TMA and more than 20 other organizations, including the Texas Hospital Association, Texas Association of Businesses, Episcopal Health Foundation, and Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals.

The Alliance commissioned the study by the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Applied Policy and Duke University.

Last Updated On

January 16, 2019

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Sean Price

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(512) 370-1392

Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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