Hispanics Want Comprehensive Health Care
December 29, 2000
Hispanic workers want comprehensive health insurance, says the Commonwealth Fund, but employers either do not offer coverage or offer it at a high cost relative to the benefits provided and workers' perceived need for medical care.
In a Commonwealth Fund study, eight focus groups explored insured and uninsured Hispanic workers' views about the value of health insurance and their experience with job-related health benefits.
The 81 people in the focus groups (75 percent of whom were uninsured) revealed that:
- Meeting basic needs (such as food and rent) is a higher priority of uninsured Hispanics than health care.
- Securing a job with a desirable salary was more important than whether or not the firm offered health insurance.
- Those who most valued coverage perceived a greater need for health care -- often because they may need medical services in the near future.
- Both insured and uninsured participants with children were more apt to desire coverage.
There were many barriers to coverage for Hispanics identified, including:
- "Seasonal mindset" -- Many didn't expect to stay and work in an area long enough to use a particular coverage.
- Low-wage and temporary jobs -- Many worked for small employers or in jobs where health insurance was too large a portion of the workers' pay to include as a benefit.
- Good Health -- Many Hispanics do not perceive a pressing need for health coverage because they are young and healthy.
- Immigration concerns -- Any coverage would have to be obtainable without fear of divulging immigration status.
Most participants wanted comprehensive health insurance -- including dental, vision care and prescription drugs -- but they were only willing to pay around $50 a month for it.
Source: Michael Perry and Susan Kannel (Lake Snell Perry & Associates) and Enrique Castillo (Castillo & Associates), "Barriers to Health Coverage for Hispanic Workers: Focus Group Findings," October 2000, Commonwealth Fund.
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