The U.S. leads the pack in the percentage of older adults who have trouble paying their medical bills.
Those without health insurance are still slow to sign up -- and it's less than 60 days until penalties kick in under the new health care law. It looks like the map could hold some answers for the Obama administration in the race to enroll.
A study conducted for The Associated Press found that half of the uninsured live in just 116 of the nation's 3,143 counties, and half of the coveted 19-39-year-old demographic lives in just 108 counties. The premiums of the young and relatively healthy are needed to offset the cost of insuring older adults who are more likely to have chronic illness.
Open enrollment for subsidized private insurance ends March 31 for people who don't have health care through their jobs, so in a sprint to the finish, federal officials plan to target these counties, which lie mostly in metro areas. Five percent of the nation's uninsured live in Los Angeles County alone, where 2 million people remain uninsured.
"Our efforts are aimed at making sure we can raise awareness in areas with the largest concentration of uninsured people," Julie Bataille, communications director for the rollout at the federal Health and Human Services Department, told the AP.
Another million uninsured live in Harris County, Texas, in Houston. Other hot spots are Cook County, Illinois, Miami-Dade County, Florida, and Dallas County, Texas. Los Angeles and New York are less of a concern, however, because those states are running their own health care exchanges, says the AP.
The Midwest and Northeast lead the nation in the lowest number of people without insurance -- many states in those regions have expanded Medicaid to cover low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act, reports the Washington Post. Even before the health care act, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts had low rates of uninsured.