CHILDREN’S HEALTH: Hispanics More Likely To Be Uninsured
Hispanic children are much "more likely" than black or white children to be uninsured, nearly twice as likely as black children and nearly three times as likely as white children to be in fair or poor health, according a report released by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR). Eleven million children of all races in the U.S. lacked health insurance in 1996, 90% of whom lived in households with at least one working adult, the report found (release, 3/9). The Knight Ridder/Contra Costa Times reports that the study's "findings on Hispanics have broad implications" for the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (Kiddiecare). Federal officials hope that progress in decreasing the number of children without insurance can be tracked through the annual AHCPR survey.
By The Numbers
The report, which is published in the current issue of Health Affairs, also found that Hispanic children are "less likely to have access to a doctor." Children at highest risk of being uninsured were those whose parents did not complete high school and those whose parents were unemployed. Twenty-eight percent of Hispanic children were found to be uninsured, versus 18% of black children and 12% of white children. The Knight Ridder/Times reports almost 75% of white children were covered by private insurance while black children were "equally likely to be covered by private insurance or government programs." But "Hispanic children were somewhat less likely to have private coverage than blacks, and much less likely to have government-sponsored coverage."
Kiddiecare To The Rescue?
Hispanic children are "under-enrolled" in government insurance programs due to, among other factors, "poor outreach by the programs," language barriers, immigrants' "misconceptions ... that their U.S.-born children are not eligible for help," and "stricter income limits" for Medicaid eligibility, according to UCLA public health professor Robert Valdez (Zaldivar, 3/9). Lead author Robin Weinick said, "A significant number of children in the United States have serious problems with health insurance coverage, access to care and overall health status" (Bowman, Scripps Howard News Service/Arizona Daily Star, 3/9). Other significant findings of the report include: about 3.3 million children are eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled; 60% of families who did not receive needed health care said they did not get it because they could not afford it; and about 42% of children in fair or poor health were covered by public health insurance programs, while about 15% in excellent health had public insurance (release, 3/9).