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Health Insurance Crisis Among Different Latinos Groups

By admin | November 17, 2006

Latinos for National Health Insurance &
From Bad to Worse: New Study Details Health Insurance Crisis Among Different Latinos Groups

November 14, 2006

For Immediate Release Contacts:

When it comes to health care, most Latinos subgroups continue to be shut out of the health care system. That is the principal finding of a new study being released today by researchers from the Columbia University and Montefiore Medical Center that is being published in the November issue of the journal Health Affairs. The study, the first longitudinal analysis of trends in health insurance coverage among Latinos subgroups finds steady increases in the number of uninsured across most Latino subgroups and among both US born and immigrant Latinos. In contrast, the number of Non-Hispanic whites without coverage was essentially the same in 1993 as in 2004.

For the study, investigators analyzed twelve years of federal data on health insurance among the Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans. According to lead author, Dr. Sarita Shah a physician at Montefiore Medical Center, “over the study period, we found some striking differences in coverage trends among Latinos sub-groups.” For example, the study found that during the 1990’s welfare reform had a disproportionate impact on Puerto Ricans whose rates of Medicaid coverage dropped from 35% in 1993 to 21% in 1999. In contrast, among Mexicans, many whom are not US citizens and may not qualify for Medicaid, losses were more modest with declines in Medicaid from 19% to 14% during this period.

Senior author Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo who is also Director of the Columbia Center for the Health of Urban Minorities, noted that there were some good news. “For example, there were gains in employment coverage for Latinos in the late 1990’s, particularly for Cubans and Puerto Ricans. However, during the past four years we have seen erosion of these gains. These losses have continued even after the recession ended, particularly among Mexicans.” The study found that in 2004 one third of all Mexicans, and one quarter of all Cubans and Dominicans living in the US lacked insurance.

However, most adversely affected during this twelve year period, were immigrant Latinos who are not yet US citizens. They saw a seven percentage point increase in their uninsured with 57% lacking coverage in 2004. While the number of uninsured non-citizen Latino immigrants increased by 3 million, the investigators also found that the number of US born Latinos who are uninsured also increased by nearly 2 million. Steffie Woolhandler, co-founder of physicians for a National Health Program and an internist at Harvard Medical School added, clearly the incremental reforms that have been enacted over the last 12 years have been a failure for all Latinos, immigrants and US born alike. These findings cry out for comprehensive reform.

In the study, both authors, also critique current approaches to the uninsured and call for National Health Insurance (NHI) to end the ongoing health insurance crisis in the Latino community. Dr. Carrasquillo notes that “current approaches such as medical consumerism would distribute health care by ability to pay. This would be catastrophic for the Latino community.” Dr. Jaime Torres, co-founder of Latinos for National Health Insurance adds “Given these alternatives, the increasing support and momentum for NHI that we are now seeing among Latino leaders comes as no surprise. It is the only health reform that would provide equal access to comprehensive high quality health care for all Latinos.”

Dr. Sarita Shah, (718) 944-3843
Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, office (212) 305-9782, cell (917) 882-7997
Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, (617) 497-1268
Dr. Jaime Torres, (212)848-6573

The study “Twelve year trends in health insurance coverage among Latinos: Analysis by subgroup and immigration status” is available at http://www.healthaffairs.org/

Citation: Shah, N. and Carrasquillo, O. “Twelve Year Trends in Health Insurance Coverage Among Latinos,” Health Affairs 25(6) November / December 2006

Copies are available to the press after the embargo lifts at:
http://www.pnhp.org/latinostudy or call Nicholas Skala at 312-782-6006 or email nick@pnhp.org

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