Understanding Health and Health Coverage in the US South

A recent issue brief published by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation uses data points to develop a portrait of the 17 states that make up the US south and current status of health in the region.

Data points describing the American South include:

  • It consists of 17 States.
  • As of 2014, the region had a population of over 118 mission or 37% of the US population.
  • The South is racially and ethnically diverse with people of color making up 42% of the population.
  • Some of the Southern states have among the highest poverty rates in the nation.

In terms of health status, the American South faces several challenges:

  • One in five adults reports a fair or poor health status.
  • The nation’s highest obesity and diabetes rates are in the South.
  • The Southern states have higher rates of infant mortality and cancer death than other areas of the country.

With the issues of high poverty and poor health outcomes, the individuals living in the American South also face challenges in terms of access to health care.

  • Southerners are more likely to be uninsured compared to individuals living in the rest of the country.
  • Medicaid and CHIP eligibility levels are more limited in the South compared to other regions.

See the issue brief for more details on the challenges facing the American south.