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Study Ranks Missouri's Overall Health 8th Worst in Nation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Missouri Hospital Association is hoping for an improvement in the number of Missourians with health insurance.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Missouri Hospital Association is hoping for an improvement in the number of Missourians with health insurance.
 
A new study shows Missouri ranks below average in terms of its population's health. The report shows how insurance coverage in the Show-Me State is affecting the health and productivity of its people.

"We found that in 11 counties and in the city of St. Louis, life expectancy was less than in Vietnam, Venezuela, Honduras, or Lebanon -- and we basically are the rough equivalent of life expectancy in Iran," says Dave Dillon, VP of Media Relations at the Missouri Hospital Association.

Last year, Missouri ranked the eighth worst in the nation among 50 states and the District of Columbia. On average, an uninsured Missourian was treated in one of our state's hospital emergency departments every minute of every day during 2012.

Dillon says the study reveals there are too many Missourians living without health insurance.

"We are 42nd in the nation relative to health status. Two decades ago, we were right in the middle: 24. It shows we have a long way to go to be a healthy population."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 807,000 Missourians were without health insurance coverage in 2010. Nearly 3 out of 4 were in a working family.

"If you look at current eligibility of Medicaid, which is for the poor, you have to be so impoverished to qualify that you almost couldn’t be working," says Dillon. "Our report points out that to qualify as a custodial parent, as a parent with children, you have to make the equivalent of $9.59 a day to qualify and almost no working person would qualify for that."

He blames the high cost of health insurance and the fact that many work in jobs without employer sponsored health insurance.

"The health insurance marketplace is set for open enrollment in October and to start actually producing benefits in January.  This will help because lower income individuals will be able to buy insurance in that marketplace. The problem is the lowest of low income will be out in the cold because Missouri hasn't made a decision about Medicaid expansion and reform."

Dillon says in order for Missouri's economy to grow, we need to make sure people are healthy enough to go to work and health insurance and health care are components of that.

Learn more about health care exchanges on our health page.


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