TEXAS: 40% of Texas Hispanics Lack Health Insurance
Forty percent of Hispanics in Texas have no health coverage, even though most are "part of families with a working head of the household," the Austin American-Statesman reports. The findings are part of a study released at an Oct. 18 Austin forum by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York- based philanthropic organization, that examined insurance coverage for Hispanics nationwide. Nationally, the report found that 80% of uninsured Hispanics work at least part-time, with 43% of those workers in jobs that do not provide employer-sponsored health coverage. "The public believes the uninsured don't work. It's a myth," Dr. Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, president of the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, said at the forum. Other barriers to insurance cited in the report include affordability of coverage; language issues; problems "navigating complicated state health insurance programs"; and "immigration issues," although the report said that even Hispanics who are U.S. citizens are twice as likely to be uninsured as "Anglos." In Texas, almost half of the state's 4.6 million uninsured residents are Hispanic, as are 57% of its more than 1.4 million uninsured children, the American-Statesman reports. Speaking at the Austin forum, Texas Heath and Human Services Commissioner Don Gilbert suggested that the state Legislature consider easing the Medicaid enrollment process, although he added that solving the problem of the uninsured is "not, in my view, solely a government solution." Other forum participants suggested that the government offer incentives for small businesses to provide coverage; allow individuals tax deductions for the cost of purchasing health care; and "expand Medicaid and CHIP eligibility and do a better job of outreach" (Roser, Austin American-Statesman, 10/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.