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By W. Gardner Selby February 13, 2013

Sacramento Bee editorial says Texas has greatest number of uninsured

Playing off of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s pitch in a radio ad for California businesses to check out Texas, a Sacramento Bee editorial published Feb. 6, 2013, mocks the Lone Star State by saying: "Come check out a state that ranks first in the number of executions, first in the number of uninsured" — and so on.

We’re tackling each of the Bee editorial board’s Texas-centric factual pokes and stacking our findings here.

We’ve confirmed that Texas is first in executions. For this story, we’re looking into the number of uninsured Texans.

Stuart Leavenworth, who oversees the Bee’s editorial page, pointed out web postings by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicating how many residents of each state have health coverage.

Nationally in 2011, the foundation estimates, some 16 percent of the population was uninsured.

In Texas in 2011, the foundation says, 24 percent of residents had no health insurance — and that was the highest uninsured rate for any state. Some 22 percent of Nevada residents and 21 percent of New Mexico residents lacked coverage, according to the foundation, while California and Louisiana were among five states where 20 percent of the population was uninsured.

The foundation cites as a basis for these percentages household surveys by the U.S Census Bureau, which suggest slightly different levels of the uninsured dependent on whether the cited survey is a one-day snapshot or one that encompasses several years.

Regardless, Texas has consistently had the highest uninsured rate.

Does it also have the greatest number of uninsured, as the editorial says?

Not so.

Another foundation chart indicates that California had 7.3 million uninsured residents, and Texas had more than 6.1 million. Of course, California’s population exceeds Texas’ by some 12 million.

Separately, we found a lower tally for Californians under age 65 who lack coverage in a December 2012 article by Paul Fronstin of the Washington-based Employee Benefit Research Institute, which says its mission is to enhance the development of sound public policy through objective research and education.

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A summary of that article opens: "In 2011, California had the largest number of people under age 65 without health insurance — 7.1 million — of any U.S. state. The percentage of uninsured Californians has risen steadily over the past two decades; the state now has the seventh-largest percentage of residents without coverage in the United States." The summary says, though, that the state’s share of uninsured residents should drop as the federal law known as Obamacare takes full effect.

By email, Fronstin agreed California has more uninsured than Texas, pointing to his own analysis of Census Bureau survey research released in March 2012. Still, he said, 27 percent of Texans under 65 are uninsured, compared with 22 percent of Californians.

Our ruling

The editorial says Texas ranks first among the states in its number of uninsured.

Texas continues to have  the nation’s greatest share of uninsured residents. However, California has about 1 million more uninsured residents. This claim has an element of truth, yet it’s wrong on the numbers. Mark it Mostly False.

Our Sources

Charts, "Health Insurance Coverage of the Total Population, states (2010-2011), U.S. (2011),"  "Health Insurance Coverage of the Total Population, states (2010-2011), U.S. (2011)", Kaiser Family Foundation (accessed Feb. 11, 2013)

Chart, "Health Insurance Coverage Status by State for All People: 2011," results from 2012 Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau (downloaded Feb. 11, 2013)

Research summary, "California's Uninsured: Treading Water," by Paul Fronstin, director, Health Research and Education Program, Employee Benefit Research Institute, for California Healthcare Foundation, December 2012

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Sacramento Bee editorial says Texas has greatest number of uninsured

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