NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Hispanics More Likely To Go Without Health Insurance

April 9, 1999

Hispanics from Mexico and Central America are less likely than blacks or non-Hispanic whites to carry health coverage, experts report. Hispanics from Cuba, on the other hand, tend to be older and wealthier and to have insurance.

  • For reasons that are largely economic, but also cultural, 34 percent of the nation's 31 million Hispanics have no health insurance -- compared to 22 percent of blacks and 12 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
  • Overall, 43 million people in the U.S. lack insurance -- up from 31 million a decade ago.
  • Half of all Hispanic people are covered through their employer -- compared with two-thirds of African- Americans and three-quarters of white workers.
  • Twenty-eight percent of Hispanic children are uninsured, the journal Health Affairs reports, compared with 18 percent of black children and 12 percent of white children.

Some Hispanics who qualify for Medicaid and other government programs will not enroll because they do not like being counted, fearing it would work against them as immigrants. Still others rely on "curanderas," or faith healers. Religious Hispanics believe a curandera can exorcise a disease.

Nationwide, the average Hispanic resident is a 26-year-old, first-generation immigrant. Being 10 years younger than the rest of the population, he or she is less likely to have contracted the diseases that develop later in life.

Source: Peter T. Kilborn, "Third of Hispanic Americans Do Without Health Coverage," New York Times, April 9, 1999.


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