Double Downer: States With Highest Number of Uninsured for Health and Auto

Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico and Oklahoma have the discomfiting distinction of having some of the highest uninsured rates for both health and auto coverage, according to the latest figures.

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A recent Gallup poll shows that more than a fifth of people living in those states do not have health insurance. The numbers are about the same in Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico and Oklahoma when it comes to car insurance, according to a separate report from the Insurance Research Council (IRC).

Here are the uninsured rates for each state, with medical listed first and followed by auto:

  • Arkansas :  22.8% and 16%
  • Oklahoma: 21.7% and 24%
  • New Mexico: 21.5% and 26%
  • Florida: 21.3% and 24%

Gallup pollsters found these states to have the highest number of residents without health coverage:

  1. Texas: 25.5%
  2. Nevada:  25%
  3. Alaska: 24.9%
  4. Arkansas:  22.8%
  5. Georgia: 22.2%
  6. Louisiana: 22.1%
  7. Oklahoma:  21.7%
  8. California:  also with 21.7%
  9. New Mexico:  21.5%
  10. Florida:  21.3%

Here are the states with the highest rates for uninsured motorists, according to the IRC's most recent report, "Uninsured Motorists 2011 Edition":

  1. Mississippi : 28%
  2. New Mexico:  26%
  3. Florida:  24%
  4. Oklahoma: 24%
  5. Tennessee:  24%
  6. Alabama:  22%
  7. Michigan:  19%
  8. Kentucky:  18%
  9. Rhode Island:  18%
  10. Arkansas:  16%

Texas, the worst for health coverage insured rates, ranked 20th for lack of auto insurance, with 15% of residents being uninsured motorists. Mississippi, with the most residents driving without car insurance, was 12th for those without medical insurance, with  21.1% of residents having no health insurance.

Adults living in the East and upper Midwest continue to be among the least likely to be uninsured when it comes to health coverage, according to the Gallup report. Residents of states in the South and West are still among the most likely in the country to lack health insurance coverage.

"The geographic pattern of uninsured rates partly reflects the demographic and socioeconomic differences in coverage," the report says. Low-income and Hispanic residents are two groups among the most likely to be uninsured, so states with larger percentages of those demographics are generally more likely to have higher uninsured rates, according to the report.

Safeguarding yourself with uninsured motorist coverage

How do you protect yourself from uninsured drivers? You need to consider buying uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, says Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute (III). (See: "Uninsured motorist coverage: 8 answers you need.")

"Most people don't think about the coverage until they're the victim of a hit-and-run accident, or are involved in a crash with a driver who either doesn't have auto insurance or has very minimal insurance," she says. (See: "What happens when an uninsured driver hits you?")

The value of uninsured motorist coverage, Salvatore points out, is that you, a family member or a designated driver will be reimbursed for bodily injuries caused by a motorist who is uninsured or by a hit-and-run driver. Having adequate underinsured motorist coverage will protect you when an at-fault driver doesn't carry enough insurance to pay for your total loss. Further, she explains, underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage also typically covers you if you're struck by a car as a pedestrian.

Since some states require motorists to have such coverage. Salvatore suggests talking with your insurance company to make sure you have sufficient coverage. (See: "Six myths about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.")

From the bad to the good: states with least uninsured for health and auto

Both Gallup and the IRC also showed which states had the smallest percentage of uninsured residents.

Here's Gallup's top five for health coverage:

  1. Massachusetts:  with 4.1% lacking health insurance
  2. Vermont:  6.7%
  3. Delaware:  8.9%
  4. Connecticut:  9.5%
  5. Minnesota:  10.4%

Here's the IRC's top five for car insurance:

  1. Massachusetts:  with 4.5% without car insurance
  2. Maine:  4.5%
  3. New York:  5%
  4. Pennsylvania:  7%
  5. Vermont :  7%

The original article can be found at downer: States with highest number of uninsured for health and auto