NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Uninsured Rate High For U.S. Hispanics

February 22, 2000

The number of Hispanics without health insurance nearly doubled from 1987 to 1998, says a Commonwealth Fund study. And Hispanics are twice as likely as the general population to go without coverage.

Analyzing data from the March 1999 Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau and the Commonwealth Fund 1999 National Survey of Workers' Health Insurance, researchers found:

  • More than 11 million Hispanics younger than 65 were uninsured, making up nearly one-fourth of the nation's 44 million uninsured.
  • More than 40 percent of adult Hispanics are uninsured, compared with 15 percent of adult, non-Hispanic whites and 25 percent of blacks.
  • Working-age adults (ages 19 to 64) are more likely to be uninsured than children 18 and younger -- who are more likely to qualify for Medicaid, the government health program for the poor -- but at 31 percent the uninsured rate for Hispanic children remains substantial.
  • Nearly half of the Hispanic workers surveyed reported that their employers did not sponsor an insurance plan, and 25 percent said they were ineligible for the insurance plans offered.

Lack of employer-sponsored insurance coverage is the primary reason for the increase in the number of uninsured Hispanics, the study reported. Nine million of the uninsured Hispanics live in a family in which at least one member is employed, but Hispanics are concentrated in low-wage jobs at small firms -- jobs least likely to offer insurance. About 43 percent of Hispanic workers are covered by insurance programs offered by their employer, compared with 64 percent of workers nationally.

More than two-thirds of uninsured Hispanics reported trouble paying their medical bills or have been contacted by a collection agency about medical expenses.

Source: Kevin Quinn (Abt Associates, Inc.), "Working Without Benefits: The Health Insurance Crisis Confronting Hispanic Americans," February 2000, Commonwealth Fund, One East 75th Street, New York, N.Y. 10021, (212) 606-3800.


Browse more articles on Health Issues