KGOU

uninsured

Cheaper, stripped-down health plans could soon see a resurgence in Oklahoma, potentially reducing the number of uninsured while leaving policyholders with unexpected medical bills.

State Rep. Ken Walker, R-Tulsa, right.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

There's a lot of work that needs to be done before a bill intended to reduce the number of uninsured drivers can go into effect.

The House gave final approval May 27 to Senate Bill 359, which would allow law enforcement to use cameras and automated license plate readers to enforce the state's compulsory insurance law. It's currently on Gov. Mary Fallin's desk awaiting her signature.

Morton Comprehensive Health Services

The CEO of Morton Comprehensive Health Services Inc. says his clinics will not accept uninsured patients next year, citing cuts to a state fund that pays for uncompensated medical care.

CEO John Silva tells the Tulsa World that the decision is probably the most difficult one he's made in 30 years. He says his clinics can't afford to take in patients who don't have insurance. Morton has clinics in Tulsa, Nowata and Bartlesville.

amboo who? / Flickr Creative Commons

The 2014 State of the State's Health Report released by the Oklahoma State Board of Health shows Oklahoma ranks 44th in overall health status of its residents compared to other states in the nation.

Unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors such as low physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption, along with a high prevalence of smoking and obesity, contribute to most of the state's leading causes of death. Significant health disparities among many of the state's population also contribute to Oklahoma's health status.

The report says, “Overall, Oklahoma has the fourth highest rate of death from all causes in the nation, 23 percent higher than the national rate. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that while Oklahoma’s mortality rate dropped five percent over the past 20 years, the U.S. mortality rate dropped 20 percent. So, Oklahoma is not keeping up with the rest of the nation.”

The annual study reports on a range of factors and details information by county.