Michelle M. Doty
The Hispanic population grew dramatically over the past decade. In 2003, Hispanics number 37 million and account for 12.5 percent of the U.S. population. As the Hispanic population has grown, so have the ranks of its uninsured. Across all age groups, Hispanics are substantially more likely than non-Hispanic whites or African Americans to lack health insurance. For more than a decade the uninsured rates for Hispanic adults and children have been two to three times those for non-Hispanic whites.
Lack of health insurance and the resultant barriers to health care are pressing issues for many Americans. However, because of their high uninsured rates, Hispanic populations are disproportionately at risk for lacking basic access to medical care. The Commonwealth Fund 2001 Health Care Quality Survey also finds that within the Hispanic population, adults who do not speak English fluently have greater difficulties communicating with and understanding their health care providers, exacerbating inequities in access and compromising quality of care.
This report focuses on the effects of insurance and English language proficiency on access and quality of care experiences among Hispanic adults in the United States. It is based on a national survey of adults ages 18 to 64 conducted by telephone in April through November of 2001.