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01.18.11

25 Best and Worst Health-Care Cities

As the House rebukes Obama’s health-care reform, The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to determine which cities are the least insured—and which already achieve near-universal coverage.

As the House rebukes President Obama’s health-care reform, The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to determine which cities are the least insured—and which already achieve near-universal coverage.

Delayed a week by the shooting tragedy in Tucson, the House of Representatives' new Republican majority is set today to make good on its campaign promise to immediately vote on repealing President Obama’s signature health-care reform bill.

The repeal has little hope of passing the Senate, and even less of avoiding the president’s veto pen, just as a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows the nation remains nearly evenly divided in favor of and opposed to the compulsory health-care bill.

Amid the latest round of posturing, The Daily Beast decided to step back from the rhetoric and examine the statistics, in order to see which large cities—really, which people—already have near-comprehensive health coverage and which cities are lagging furthest behind.

To find out, The Daily Beast compared four factors for each metropolitan area in the country using data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2009: the percentage of the population with health care; the percentage of people age 18 and younger with health care; the percentage of people age 65 and older with health care; and the percentage of disabled people with health care. We took the average percentage for each category nationally and then compared it to the individual score for each city, so the cities on this list consistently score higher or lower than average for overall health care coverage and coverage for their most vulnerable populations. Because we only measured cities large enough to produce significant Census data, these numbers are all within a margin of error of 5 percent or less.

So what did we discover? First, the largest problem areas come almost exclusively from the Sun Belt, notably cities in Texas, California, and Florida, though the fourth-worst performer is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s base (Las Vegas). As for the best, 24 of the top 25 sit in the Midwest and Northeast. But perhaps more interesting, the state that hosts the top three areas passed its own health-care reform package that served in many ways as a model for Obama’s plan. The man who spearheaded that effort in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, is now a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012—and a leading critic of Obama’s health-care reform. For the full results, click here.

Gallery: The 25 Most-Insured Cities

Gallery: The 25 Least-Insured Cities

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Research by Clark Merrefield