Despite national trends, Alabama still ranks low in working women, health coverage

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According to a recent report in the New York Times‘ Upshot feature section, though many states are experiencing either an higher levels of unemployment or higher levels of health insurance coverage since Congress passed President Barack Obama‘s signature Affordable Care Act, Alabama stands largely apart from the national model.

The report cites the decision by Gov. Robert Bentley to reject federal funds intended to expand the state’s Medicaid rolls as a key to understanding both aspects of Alabama’s idiosyncratic political economy.

The places with the highest rates of nonwork — male and female — include parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas and Michigan. These same areas have also had a sharp increase in health coverage in the last year, in part because more people without jobs can now obtain health insurance. Some exceptions: Alabama and the Carolinas, where non-employment is widespread, but where local officials have opted not to put in the health law fully.

The places with low levels of female employment have a lot of overlap with these high-poverty places, as an Upshot analysis of census data shows. That’s hardly surprising: Lack of employment has a strong and obvious correlation with poverty. Yet the geographic patterns of female work also have more nuances than the male patterns.

Although Governor Bentley has indicated of late that he is open to Medicaid expansion, it appears highly unlikely to happen in today’s contemporary legislative culture, so these trends regarding Alabama women figure to continue for the foreseeable future.

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