Hispanics, American Indians, Multi-Ethnic in New Mexico More Likely Than Whites To Be Uninsured During a Two-Year Period, Study Finds
Nearly half of Hispanics and American Indians in New Mexico went without health insurance at some point in 2007 and 2008, compared with 28% of whites, according to a Families USA study released last week, the AP/Las Cruces Sun-News reports (Clark, AP/Las Cruces Sun-News, 3/28). The group is releasing reports on all 50 states (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 3/26).
According to Betina Gonzales McCracken, a New Mexico Human Services Department spokesperson, a previous study the state conducted also showed racial disparities in health insurance coverage.
During the two-year period, 49.5% of Hispanics, or 357,000 people, were without health insurance for at least one month and up to two years, the Families USA study found. Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said Hispanics are more likely to be uninsured because they tend to be employed by firms that offer lower wages and do not provide health coverage to employees. McCracken said the state's research shows that one-third of uninsured Hispanics live in the southern part of the state and that many of the uninsured are children of documented Hispanic immigrants.
Fifty-six percent of American Indians and people who described themselves as being a member of more than one ethnic group -- or 136,000 people -- reported being uninsured at some point during the study period. McCracken said uninsurance among American Indians is related to cultural barriers, such as beliefs that obtaining health insurance is similar to asking for something bad to happen to themselves. In addition, many American Indians believe that they do not need health insurance because they can receive care from Indian Health Service clinics, according to McCracken.
Blacks were not included in the study because of the small available sample size in the state.
Pollack suggested creating a one-stop shop for public services, including food stamp and school lunch programs, health insurance and other programs to reach residents from different ethnic groups (AP/Las Cruces Sun-News, 3/28).
The report is available online (.pdf).