Florida has the nations second-highest rate of uninsured residents younger than 65 a total of about 3.8 million people, or about 25 percent of the states population, including more than 500,000 younger than 19, according to U.S. Census data released Thursday.
And out of all 67 counties in Florida, Miami-Dade has the second-highest rate of uninsured for the same age group at 34.4 percent, trailing only Hendry County, with an uninsured rate of 35 percent or about 11,500 residents. Miami-Dade also is home to the largest number of residents without health insurance in the state younger than 65 an estimated 744,000 people.
Broward Countys uninsured rate is 26 percent, or about 392,000 people.
Steven Marcus, chief executive of the Health Foundation of South Florida, a public charity that funds healthcare initiatives in the region, attributed Miami-Dades high rate of uninsured residents to the countys large number of small businesses, many of which do not offer health insurance to their employees the most common method for Americans to receive coverage.
Were a very small-business, service economy, Marcus said. Our small businesses have never supported healthcare.
A large number of undocumented workers also live in Miami-Dade; its unclear if the census data included that population, which does not qualify for government-sponsored insurance programs.
The census data, referred to as Small Area Health Insurance Estimates, reflects county-level and state-level information as of 2011, the most recent year for which information is available.
Americans 65 and older qualify for Medicare, the federal healthcare program for the elderly. For the poor and disabled younger than 65, Medicaid may offer coverage.
Expansion of Medicaid, a joint state and federal health insurance program, was a keystone of President Barack Obamas healthcare law and took center stage during Floridas legislative session this year. The Senate supported a bipartisan plan to accept federal money to let Floridians obtain insurance through a state-subsidized system. House Republicans insisted on an alternative plan to use $300 million in state money to buy basic coverage for 130,000 low-income Floridians.
The two sides were unable to strike a deal and passed on an estimated $50 billion in federal funds over the next 10 years.
In response to the latest census data, House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, issued a statement Thursday calling Republican legislative leaders refusal to accept the federal aid inexcusable and shameful.
Thurston said Medicaid expansion would have provided coverage to more than a million low-income Floridians: The Legislatures failure to expand health coverage continues to punish working families and small businesses throughout Florida.
Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said the governors stance on Medicaid hasnt changed. During the session, he said yes and the Legislature said no, she said, referring to the governors preference for a Senate proposal to accept federal funds to provide insurance to Floridians below 138 percent of the poverty level $15,865 for an individual and $32,499 for a family of four in 2013.