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Health Care Nightmare: Less Than Half Of Texas Metro Area Insured

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Texas is home to three of the top 10 metropolitan areas with the highest rates of uninsured people, topped by McAllen and two neighboring towns, where more than 50 percent of the residents have no health insurance, according to a new Gallup poll.

With just 49.5 percent of the people living in McAllen, Edinburg, or Mission, Texas having health insurance, it's the only metro area in the country where a majority of people have no coverage. El Paso is number two on the list with a 31.8 percent uninsurance rate and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown came in seventh with 24.9 percent.

Overall, the national uninsurance rate is 17.1 percent and rising, according to Gallup, with almost 50 million people in America who having no health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The health care reform law enacted two years ago is supposed to extend health benefits to about 30 million people but is at risk of being repealed by the Supreme Court, which held its third and final day of oral arguments today in a case challenging the law's constitutionality.

Texas and Florida are among the 26 states that brought the lawsuit seeking to overturn Obama's law.

Texas is a hotbed of uninsurance: 27.6 percent of Texans have no health insurance. McAllen notably was the subject of a profile in The New Yorker three years ago, which used the town as an example of the inefficient, runaway spending that is driving up national health care costs.

California and Florida don't come out looking great, either. Visalia and Porterville, California, comprise the only other metro area where uninsurance tops 30 percent. Salinas and Stockton also made the dubious list. The Orlando, Miami, and Port St. Lucie areas in Florida also are represented. Washington state's lone representative, Yakima, ranked fourth with 29 percent of its residents uninsured.

Texas, California, and Florida have large Hispanic populations, which Gallup says partially accounts for their low insurance rates. Overall, 40 percent of Hispanic people in the U.S. have no insurance, Gallup previously reported.

Not surprisingly, Massachusetts made a strong showing. The state, which enacted a near-universal coverage program in 2006, holds the top four spots on the ranking of those who have health insurance. In greater Boston, just 2.4 percent of people have no health coverage.

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