Tulsa Claims Ninth-Highest Uninsured Rate Among Large U.S. Cities

Oct 11, 2019

Credit KWGS News file photo

Oklahoma’s uninsured rates are high.

The state's overall rate, 14.2% of residents without health coverage, is second-highest in the U.S.

In Tulsa, it’s even higher: 15.7% of residents are uninsured, the ninth-highest rate among large cities.

"I think the specifics were up for grabs, but, overall, this is not something that should be a surprise to any of us," said Oklahoma Policy Institute Policy Director Carly Putnam.

There are several disparities in Tulsa's uninsured rates, too. Black and Latino Tulsans are more likely to be uninsured than whites, and the uninsured rate for Latino residents, 28.3%, is almost double the city's overall rate.

And one in five low-income families in Tulsa lacks insurance, about four times the rate of uninsured higher-income families.

Advocates believe expanding Medicaid would help with Oklahoma and Tulsa’s dismal uninsured rates.

"More than 30 other states so far have looked at issues with access to health care, with insurance coverage, with health outcomes and recognized that Medicaid expansion is a really effective tool in addressing all of those issues," Putnam said.

"They see more people getting recommended screenings. They see fewer low-birthweight babies. There’s some suggestion out of Michigan that we see fewer instances of child neglect. We see families who are less worried about their finances," Putnam said.

Most of the large cities with worse uninsured rates than Tulsa are in Texas, another state that hasn't expanded Medicaid. San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Arlington, Texas rank below Tulsa, followed by Miami, Florida. Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston and Dallas round out the bottom of the large U.S. city rankings.