CNS – Nearly one-fourth of Los Angeles County residents lacked health insurance coverage in 2005, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Of the roughly 8.7 million Los Angeles County residents, about 6.7 million had health insurance in 2005, while about 2 million, or 23.4 percent, lacked coverage, according to the report. In Orange County, 21.5 percent of the region’s 2.6 million residents, or 566,296 people, were without health insurance coverage in 2005, according to the Census Bureau.
More than half of Orange County’s uninsured qualify for medical services under Cal-OPTIMA, an HMO-style health care system established in 1995 that serves an estimated 300,000 people, according to Robert Gates, deputy agency director for the Orange County Healthcare Agency. The county also provides care to about 20,000 people who qualify with an income that is below 200 percent of the poverty level, or about $20,000 a year for an individual, Gates said. Participants in that program, the Medical Services Initiative, must be between the ages of 21-64 and be legal U.S. residents, he said.
The county’s public health clinics treat low-income residents for illnesses such as AIDS and tuberculosis “in order to prevent the transmission of communicable disease,” Gates said. The U.S. Census Bureau touted the report as the most extensive estimate it has ever published on county-level demographic characteristics of people with and without health insurance coverage. The Small Area Health Insurance Estimates, or SAHIE, report covered all states and counties by gender, age and income as well as race and Hispanic origin, according to the Census Bureau.
“Analysts and policymakers can use this information to target outreach activities and other intervention strategies to increase coverage and access to needed health care services,” said Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center in Minneapolis.
The SAHIE was based on models combining data from a variety of sources, including the 2000 census, the Census Bureau’s population estimates program, county business patterns data and administrative records, such as federal tax returns and Medicaid participation records.