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D.C. Region's Uninsured Below Average

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The percentage of people without health insurance in the D.C. region fell below the national average in 2010.
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The percentage of people without health insurance in the D.C. region fell below the national average in 2010.

The total number of Americans without health insurance increased last year, but the D.C. region fared well compared to the rest of the country.

An additional 900,000 Americans went without health insurance coverage in 2010, compared to the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census bureau. The analysis also found the rate of uninsured wasn't much better: 16.3 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2010.

But all three states in the D.C. region are well below that average: in the District of Columbia, 12.5 percent were uninsured; in Maryland, 13.1 percent; and in Virginia, 14.1 percent. The rate of uninsured did increase slightly in the District, by 3 percent since 2007 [PDF].

Ron Pollack, the executive director of FamiliesUSA, an advocacy group for health care consumers, says despite the sluggish numbers, the percentage of uninsured in the D.C. region is a lot better than many of its counterparts in other parts of the country. 

"Now compare that to a state like Texas, which is 24.6 percent or New Mexico which is second at 21.6 percent," Pollach says. "You can see quite a contrast."

Pollack says when regional employers don't offer coverage; workers are able to access so called safety net coverage from local and state governments. "The District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia do a lot better than Texas on that count," Pollack says.

Figures also show the national rate of poverty rose to its highest level in more than two decades. The District fared particularly poorly in 2010; its poverty rate for that year, at 19.9 percent, is the third highest in the country.

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