Hispanic Access to Health Care:

Significant Gaps Exist

PEMD-92-6: Published: Jan 15, 1992. Publicly Released: Jan 15, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on Hispanic access to health care.

GAO found that: (1) in 1989, 33 percent of all U.S. Hispanics and 37 percent of Mexican-Americans were without health insurance, primarily because they worked in jobs that did not provide private health insurance or sufficient income for the worker to afford insurance; (2) 8 out of 10 uninsured Hispanic family members under age 65 belong to families that have employed adult workers; (3) since many Hispanics live in states with the most stringent Medicaid eligibility criteria, they have difficulty gaining access to public health insurance programs; (4) although knowledge concerning the actual prevalence of disease among Hispanics is limited by a shortage of comprehensive data, it is clear that the high rate of noninsurance and an apparent scarcity of primary care facilities make Hispanics particularly vulnerable to adverse health outcomes; and (5) achieving a more rational health care delivery process for the Hispanic population will involve increasing adequate health insurance coverage, expanding neighborhood access to primary care, and improving available data to allow appropriate planning and evaluation. GAO included in the report a testimony it presented in September 1991 regarding Hispanic access to health care.