Texas ranks fifth in uninsured residents - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Texas ranks fifth in uninsured residents

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

The San Jose clinic in Midtown is constantly busy caring for thousands of people in Houston and Harris County who lack health insurance.

"We've never seen a slowdown or downturn of the uninsured people trying to get in our doors," said San Jose Clinic CEO Pauleanne Lewis.

She says they are only able to serve about 30% of Houston's estimated 1 Million uninsured people.

It's why she is not at all surprised that the Lone Star State once again, for the fifth year, has the highest percentage of people without health insurance ever recorded at 28.8%. The national average is 16.9 percent.

Lewis says the problem in Texas is twofold.

"I think immigration reform and health care reform in Texas go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other because we do have a large immigrant population here just because of where we are located geographically, and there are so many that are still going to fall through the cracks even with health care reform," said Lewis.

The average family of four that comes to San Jose clinic is below the poverty line with an annual salary of $34,000.

At San Jose care is provided for a small contribution that depends on the service given and the family's circumstances. But the face of the uninsured, Lewis says, isn't what you may think.

"These are hardworking people that we see, a lot of our families are double income families, or they used to be double income families and for whatever reason whether they don't have access to insurance, not just because of their immigration status, but because their employers don't offer insurance, or the premiums are so high thru their employer that there now way they can do that, they have to choose between that and rent utilities or food," said Lewis.

She says the need for affordable health care in this community has grown, and it's why the clinic has expanded to provide full services ranging from radiology to dental care.

The new numbers come as lawmakers in Austin debate how to develop a state plan to lower the average.

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