Hispanics, Health Insurance and Health Care Access

Gretchen Livingston, Pew Hispanic Center, September 25, 2009

Six-in-ten Hispanic adults living in the United States who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents lack health insurance, according to a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of a survey it conducted in 2007. The nationwide survey offers a detailed look at the health insurance and health care access of an immigrant subgroup that has become a focus of attention in the current debate over health care reform.

The share of uninsured among this group (60%) is much higher than the share of uninsured among Latino adults who are legal permanent residents or citizens (28%), or among the adult population of the United States (17%).

Hispanic adults who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents tend to be younger and healthier than the adult U.S. population and are less likely than other groups to have a regular health care provider. {snip}

Overall, four-in-ten (41%) non-citizen, non-legal permanent resident Hispanics state that their usual provider is a community clinic or health center. These centers are designed primarily as “safety nets” for vulnerable populations and are funded by a variety of sources, including the federal government, state governments and private foundations, as well as reimbursements from patients, based upon a sliding scale (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008).

Some 15% of Latino adults who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents report that they use private doctors, hospital outpatient facilities or health maintenance organizations when they are sick or need advice about their health. {snip}

An additional 6% of Latino adults who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents report that they usually go to an emergency room when they are sick or need advice about their health. {snip}

Some 37% of Latino adults who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents have no usual health care provider. {snip} However, a majority (56%) say they do not have a usual provider because they simply do not need one. An additional 5% state that difficulty in navigating the U.S. health care system prevents them from having a usual provider.

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Overall, about one-quarter of all adult Latinos are undocumented. Pew Hispanic Center analyses of Current Population {snip}

Health Status

The Latino population in the U.S. is relatively young, and Latino adults who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents are younger still. Some 43% of adult Latinos who are not citizens or legal permanent residents are younger than age 30, compared with 27% of Hispanic adults who are citizens or legal permanent residents and 22% of the adult U.S. population. The youthfulness of this population contributes to its relative healthiness. {snip}

Experiences in the Health Care System

Three-fourths (76%) of Latino adults who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents report that the quality of medical care they received in the past year was excellent or good. This is similar to the proportion of adult Latino citizens and legal permanent residents (78%) who express satisfaction with their recent health care.

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Among those Latinos who are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents who report receiving poor medical treatment in the past five years, a plurality (46%) state that they believed their accent or the way they spoke English contributed to that poor care. {snip}

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Other tables are available at the original story.

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