Yesterday we posted about the Legislative Study Group's Texas on the Brink report, which finds that the state of our state is not great. It takes a lot of factors into account – education, women's issues, the environment and the workforce, to name a few – and there's a lot to unpack. But one of the most timely issues, given the ongoing debate over whether to expand Medicaid in Texas, is health care.
We already know that Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation. But some other rankings also stand out:
- Percent of low-income population covered by Medicaid: 48th
- Percent of population with employer-based health insurance: 43rd
- Health care expenditures per capita: 46th
- Per capita state spending on mental health: 50th
- Percent of women who receive pap smears: 41st
- Percent of women over 40 who receive mammograms: 42nd
- Percent of women who receive prenatal care in first trimester: 50th
And the lack of investment in health care has noticeable impacts on health:
- Cervical cancer rate: 8th
- Percent of adults who are overweight or obese: 8th
- Prevalence of diagnosed diabetes: 15th
- Percent of babies born at low birth weight: 19th
The lack of investment in health care now is going to become an even bigger problem down the road. When the state doesn't invest in preventative care, people don't get that care as much as they should (see this already happening: pap smears, mammograms, etc.). When people don't get preventative care, they are at risk for more serious health problems (see Texas's cervical cancer rate), not to mention higher health costs, which could have been avoided.
Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act will soon make health insurance available for many uninsured Texans via health exchanges. But there will still be millions of low-income Texans who can't afford it – people that we need a Medicaid expansion in order to reach. Most states are taking advantage of the immense resources the federal government is devoting to this expansion. Without it, Texas will fall even farther behind.