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Disparities Remain as More Hispanic Kids In Texas Gain Health Insurance

PHOTO: There's been a significant drop in the number of Hispanic children without health insurance in the U.S., although racial disparities and other barriers to coverage remain. Photo credit: Beau/Flickr.
PHOTO: There's been a significant drop in the number of Hispanic children without health insurance in the U.S., although racial disparities and other barriers to coverage remain. Photo credit: Beau/Flickr.
November 13, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas - Progress has been made in Texas and across the nation in reducing the number of Hispanic children without health insurance, but significant disparities still need to be addressed.

A new study finds Hispanic kids remain twice as likely to be uninsured as their non-Hispanic white peers. Sal Valdez, chief operating officer of the Latino HealthCare Forum in Austin, says getting coverage for uninsured kids is vital for protecting the health and development of children, and ensuring they grow into healthy adults.

"As a child growing up, you want to maintain all aspects of preventive care," says Valdez. "Dental, physical, mental. So the extent an individual has access to preventive medicine throughout their life will prevent other, more complicated and serious conditions."

According to the report from the National Council of La Raza and the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, 17 percent of Hispanic children in Texas - numbering nearly 600,000 - do not have any health insurance.

Among the barriers commonly encountered by this uninsured community are affordability and immigration status, but many are potentially eligible for public programs. Report co-author Sonya Schwartz, a research fellow at Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, says most are citizens.

"In fact, 93 percent of the Hispanic kids in the U.S. are citizens," she says. "Some live in families where other family members are not, but it's really important for parents to realize it's safe to apply - even if not everyone in the home is a citizen."

In Texas, Schwartz says another key step would be for the state to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid, as more than two dozen other states across the country have already done.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX