NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

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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