Hispanics are ‘Most Uninsured Ethnic Group,’ Study Finds
Although they make up a growing portion of the U.S. population and workforce, Hispanics "lag far behind" non-Hispanics in health insurance coverage, a new study by the Project HOPE Center for Health Affairs and the Commonwealth Fund found. According to the study, titled "Running in Place: How Job Characteristics, Immigrant Status, and Family Structure Keep Hispanics Uninsured," Hispanics are at a "double disadvantage" with respect to health insurance because they are more likely than non-Hispanic counterparts to work in industries where insurance coverage is traditionally not offered and less likely to be offered insurance even when coverage is provided (Commonwealth Fund release, 6/12). For example, the AP/Arizona Republic reports that in 1999, 69% of full time Hispanic workers were offered employer-sponsored coverage, compared to about 87% of non-Hispanics.
(AP/Arizona Republic, 6/13). Moreover, the study found that Hispanics, the "most uninsured ethnic group" in America, are as likely as non-Hispanics to purchase employer-sponsored insurance when it is offered to them. While lower incomes account for some of the insurance take-up disparity between Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers, Hispanic workers earning less than $15,000 annually have lower coverage rates than non-Hispanics in the same income bracket -- at that income level, 45% of Hispanics are uninsured, while 29% of non-Hispanics lack coverage (Commonwealth Fund release, 6/12). Other "key" findings include:
- Hispanics are four times as likely as non-Hispanics to be "chronically uninsured."
- Immigrant Hispanics are less likely than U.S.-born Hispanics to work at a job where health insurance is offered.
- One-third of immigrant Hispanics remain uninsured after 15 years in the United States, compared to 14% of non-Hispanic immigrants.
- Married Hispanics are younger than married non-Hispanics, more likely to have young children at home and more likely to live in a single-income family, factors that "limit the avenues through which health insurance can be obtained" ("Running in Place," May 2001).
Claudia Schur, deputy director of Project HOPE and lead author of the study, said, "Even after years in the workforce, many Hispanics in the United States remain shut out of employer-based health insurance, because they are working in lower-wage jobs, often in small firms, within industries that either do not offer health benefits at all or that restrict eligibility to certain groups of workers. Policymakers, employers and health care leaders need to be aware of the complex nature of the issue in order to craft appropriate solutions" (Commonwealth Fund release, 6/12). She added, "Some people may believe Hispanics decide not to have health insurance because they choose not to buy it. That's not true. It's not just affordability" (AP/Arizona Republic, 6/13). To read the study, go to http://www.cmwf.org/programs/insurance/schur_running_453.pdf. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.
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