Healthcare Coverage Low among Latinos, Regardless of Education

Healthcare coverage rates are better among people with higher education levels.

But Latinos still face some of the largest health insurance coverage gaps among racial/ethnic groups, no matter their education level, new Census research shows.

“Those identifying as American Indian and Alaska Native … or Hispanic had the highest uninsured rates at all education levels,” according to the Census Bureau.

Let’s dive deeper into the differences in education level and uninsured rates by race and ethnicity, with a close look at Latinos.

What Is the State of Latino Educational Attainment?

20.8% of Latinos age 25 to 64 had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2021, according to Census data. This is a lower rate than 60.8% of Asians (non-Hispanic), 41.5% of Whites (non-Hispanic), and 26.8% of African Americans (non-Hispanic).

Still, Latinos continue to make strides in high education.

Latinas experienced a 52% rise in college degree attainment at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) from 2015 to 2020, according to a recent report from Excelencia in Education.

HSIs are also on the rise. An HSI is “an institution of higher education that is an eligible institution; and has an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic students at the end of the award year immediately preceding the date of application,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

As of 2021-22, 572 institutions classified as HSIs compared to 559 in 2020-21, according to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).

“This rise represents an increase in the enrollment and concentration of Hispanic students in colleges and universities around the country after a decrease seen during the previous year that reported data during the pandemic,” according to HACU.

Education level is one of the non-medical conditions – known as social determinants of health (SDoH) – can greatly help or harm our health.

Yet how is education tied to rates of health insurance coverage?

What Are Uninsured Rates among Latinos by Education Level?

Despite research finding that uninsured rates are lower for people with more education, an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that racial and ethnic disparities in health insurance coverage exists even among the more educated.

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau.

“Those without a high school diploma had among the highest uninsured rates within each race and Hispanic origin group, and those holding a bachelor’s degree had the lowest,” according to the Census Bureau.

But disparities persist even among higher-educated racial/ethnic groups.

Among those with a bachelor’s degree, adults ages 25 to 64 in most race and Hispanic origin groups had higher uninsured rates (9.9%) than the national average for adults with this level of educational attainment (4.7%).

This was the case for all except non-Hispanic White adults and non-Hispanic Asian adults.

“The uninsured rate across race and Hispanic origin groups ranged from 5.7% for White, non-Hispanic people to 18.8% for those identifying as non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native,” according to data from the 2021 American Community Survey (ACS)

Some groups had high uninsured rates regardless of educational attainment. In fact, Latinos had among the highest uninsured rate in the nation at 17.7%.

Although Hispanic children had higher rates of public coverage than the national average across all income-to-poverty groups, the public coverage rate for Hispanic adults living in poverty (43.5%) was lower than the national public coverage rate for adults in poverty (49.9%).

“This suggests that differences in insurance coverage by race and Hispanic origin stem partly from racial disparities, including inequities in educational attainment and unequal returns on the educational attainment achieved,” according to the Census Bureau.

Why Are Uninsured Rates a Big Deal for Latinos?

Lack of insurance coverage can lead to more health disparities for Latinos.

Latinos who lack health insurance coverage can face many health risks, including:

  • more likely to delay care
  • less likely to have a usual source of care
  • more likely to be concerned about medical bills than their non-Latino counterparts

As a result, Latinos and other people of color are disproportionally impacted by health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Latinos are also less likely to participate in clinical trials, in part due to cost, systemic distrust, and cultural barriers.

Health In Your Community

How healthy is your area?

Find out with the Salud America! Health Equity Report Card!

Use the Report Card as a tool to help you visualize and explore health-related inequities in your community like housing, poverty, health care, and education.

Share the results with family, colleagues, city representatives and advocate for change in your community.

“You can share an interactive version of your local Health Equity Report Card to make the case to address existing inequities and strengthen your community’s ability to respond to and recover from disasters, so everyone has a fair opportunity to live their healthiest lives possible,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio.


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