Fairness Report: Why So Many Latinos In Central California Don’t Have Health Insurance

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) – Health care coverage is essential for all families, but access to insurance is not the same for everyone.

Paula is an undocumented immigrant who crossed the US-Mexico border decades ago to say goodbye to her sister who was battling terminal lung cancer. She asked us not to use her full name to protect her identity.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she tested positive for the coronavirus after working closely with others at a packing station. Paula was forced to quarantine herself for weeks without pay and was eventually fired.

“One day the ambulance took me home and I got a bill for over a thousand dollars,” Paula said. job.”

ABC30’s datajournalism team measured inequalities in health insurance coverage in central California and found that Hispanics or Latinos are the least insured racial-ethnic group in our region and are two times more likely to lack coverage than whites.

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For low-income undocumented immigrants, the numbers are even more staggering.

“Most of us tend to work in agriculture, construction, housekeeping, housekeeping, childcare, as well as food services or low-paying jobs, instead of working. in high paying jobs… these people tend to have a higher income, and therefore they can afford insurance, ”said Dr. Jose Luis Bautista, internist at Omni Family Health, a network of health centers dedicated to continuous health care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

Dr Bautista says Latinos face several barriers to receiving quality health care. He points to low-paying jobs that often do not offer employer insurance, language and immigration status. He adds that some are above the income threshold for the California public health insurance program Medi-Cal.

“Federally qualified clinics, rural health clinics are a must in our society for providing care to the uninsured. I think we should develop group insurance so that group insurance is more affordable because a lot of people don’t qualify for Cal, ”said Dr. Bautista.

Looking more closely at the neighborhoods in Fresno with the highest rates of diagnosed diabetes, about 75% of residents are Hispanic. That’s compared to 8% nationwide, according to the U.S. census.

“Latinos and Latinos tend to go to the doctor when their diabetes is really out of control. saving their money to protect the family, so they put the family before themselves, ”said Dr Bautista.

In July, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill extending Medi-Cal health care services to undocumented migrants under 26 and over 50. MP Joaquin Arambula wants to go further.

“We know that those without health insurance get sicker and die,” said MP Joaquin Arambula. “AB 133 is the down payment we have now to cover anyone over 50. AB4 must get us, as a state, to commit to covering all, regardless of immigration status. by the end of 2026. “

Rachel Linn Gish of Health Access California, a statewide healthcare advocacy group pushing for universal coverage. She explains that even with coverage, some cannot afford the deductible, so instead, many are uninsured.

“There is still a significant portion of bankruptcies that are medically related. And if you don’t have that security for yourself and your family to know that if something bad happens that you can get care for, you have it. need without you literally going bankrupt, that’s what we’re trying to do here, ”Gish said.

We want to help Central California foster conversations that lead to more equitable communities.

That’s why ABC-owned TV stations launched The Equity Report, giving you the information and tools you need to trigger this change.

The Equity Report is an unprecedented data journalism tool for tracking and measuring racial equity in 100 of America’s largest cities. Using the data, the stations go beyond statistics to tell the stories of marginalized communities; and through solutions journalism, the stations further provide local and national resources to encourage a pathway towards building more equitable communities.

Visit here for more investigation reports.

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