by David Ramsey
Overall, one in five people are in fair or poor health in the South, a higher percentage than any other region in the U.S., the Kaiser Family Foundation has found. Virtually all southern states rank among those with the highest rates of adult diabetes and most of the states with the highest obesity rates are in the South. Infant mortality is higher in the South than any other U.S. region. Cancer death rates are a little lower in the South than in the Midwest, but they are much higher than those in the West and the Northeast. South Carolina has a higher rate of cancer-related deaths than the southern states overall or the U.S. nationally.
Fewer people have health coverage in the South: 18% of the adult non-elderly population is uninsured in the South since enactment of the Affordable Care Act, compared with 12% in the rest of the country. The highest uninsured rates are generally in the 10 southern states that have not opted to expand Medicaid under the ACA. In South Carolina, 123,000 residents fall into a coverage gap: They are poor adults who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for premium tax credits, which begin at 100% of the federal poverty level.