Families USA report looks at Medicaid expansion, health disparities among Hispanics

March 26, 2015

In the states that have chosen not to expand their Medicaid program, there are hundreds of thousands of uninsured, low-income Hispanics who are lagging behind on key measures of access to healthcare, according to a report from Families USA. To explore how expanding Medicaid can mitigate these disparities in healthcare, researchers compared how insured and uninsured low-income Hispanics in three states fare in terms of access to healthcare and preventive health services. The data found low-income Hispanics with health insurance fare better on three core indicators of access to healthcare than their uninsured counterparts:

  • An individual's ability to afford the cost of going to the doctor: The major role of health insurance is to reduce cost as a barrier to getting necessary medical care. Research shows that, for uninsured, low-income Hispanics, cost is a significant barrier to seeing a doctor.  
  • Whether an individual has a regular doctor: In addition to helping people afford the care they need, insurance fosters ongoing relationships between patients and medical practitioners. Having a regular source of care allows a patient to have continuity of treatment for chronic conditions, as well as monitoring to prevent more severe problems from developing. Findings point to disparities in access to a regular doctor between those who had insurance and those who didn’t.  
  • Whether an individual had a routine medical check-up in the past year: An annual check-up is critical to the prevention, early diagnosis, and effective treatment of health problems. Researchers found that those who lacked health insurance were less likely to receive this preventive health service.