21% in Az lacked health insurance in ’05, Census showsby Maria Konopken on Oct. 10, 2008, under Uncategorized
5 states had higher overall rates in ’05
PHOENIX – About 1 in 5 Arizonans overall and 1 in 3 Hispanic residents lacked health insurance in 2005, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Only five states had higher overall rates for uninsured residents.
The report, which categorized data by age, race, income and gender, determined that 12.7 percent of white residents of Arizona were uninsured, while 34.6 percent of Hispanics lacked insurance. Overall, 20.7 percent of Arizonans didn’t have health insurance, according to the estimates.
Jill Rissi, associate director for research and policy at St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, said circumstances have more to do with health insurance coverage than ethnicity.
“The rates of the Hispanic population that are not insured parallel with things like their education, income and culture,” Rissi said.
Residents of Hispanic origin made up 28.6 percent of Arizona’s population in 2005, according to Census Bureau figures.
Alberto Esparza, president and CEO of the Si Se Puede Foundation, a group that advocates for youth in Arizona, said a lack of health insurance isn’t just a Hispanic issue.
“What the study is showing is not a true picture of what is going on,” Esparza said. “Our economy is suffering, and everyone seems to be looking for a reason of why it is that way. Both Hispanics and non-Hispanics are feeling its effects.”
Esparza said many Hispanics simply can’t afford coverage.
“They want the health insurance, but they are in survival mode,” Esparza said. “People are having to choose between putting food on the table and health insurance.”
Rissi said Arizona’s ranking also has to do with its proportionately larger share of small businesses, which often can’t afford to provide health coverage for employees. And some businesses are cutting employees’ hours to the point that they don’t qualify for health insurance, she said.
“Now they are working five hours a day trying to make a living, and sometimes health insurance is no longer a priority for them,” Rissi said. Rissi said she isn’t optimistic about things improving without changes in the way Americans are insured.
“You could blame it on the economy, high cost or any other factor, but if nothing is done, the numbers and percentage will only get worse,” Rissi said.
States with higher overall percentages of uninsured than Arizona were: Texas, 26.3 percent; New Mexico, 24.2 percent; Florida, 24 percent; Oklahoma, 21.4 percent and Nevada, 20.8 percent.
Minnesota had the lowest rate, at 9.5 percent, followed by Hawaii at 9.7 percent, Wisconsin at 10.3 percent, Iowa at 10.4 percent and Maine at 11.1 percent.
On the Web
U.S. Census Bureau:
St. Luke’s Health Initiatives:
Si Se Puede Foundation:
UNINSURED RESIDENTS FOR 2005
The U.S. Census Bureau’s county-by-county estimates of uninsured residents in Arizona for 2005. County-level data weren’t categorized by ethnicity:
• Apache County: 9.1 percent.
• Cochise County: 17.9 percent.
• Coconino County: 18.3 percent.
• Gila County: 15.9 percent.
• Graham County: 15.8 percent.
• Greenlee County: 14.1 percent.
• La Paz County: 21.8 percent.
• Maricopa County: 21.3 percent.
• Mohave County: 21.8 percent.
• Navajo County: 13.8 percent.
• Pima County: 19.4 percent.
• Pinal County: 21.5 percent.
• Santa Cruz County: 24 percent.
• Yavapai County: 26.4 percent.
• Yuma County: 19.7 percent.