FIGURE 5-8b Health insurance coverage for white, black, and Hispanic working-age adults, 1997 to 2001.

SOURCE: 1997 to 2001 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

public health insurance programs for all recent legal immigrants.96 General confusion about how the new laws affected immigrants triggered declines in their overall utilization of public insurance programs.

Partly because of low rates of health insurance coverage, Hispanics are less likely than whites to have a usual source of care or regular health care provider, which in turn restricts their access to more specialized forms of care. The relatively low number of Hispanic physicians, especially in Hispanics’ new destinations, further hinders access to care because Hispanic physicians are more likely than their non-Hispanic counterparts to care for Hispanic patients. Given their large share of recent immigrants, Mexicans are less likely than Puerto Ricans or Cubans to have a usual source of care, as are Spanish speakers compared with English speakers. Furthermore, language barriers undermine quality health care, even among groups with similar demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, by hindering patient-provider communication; by reducing access to health information; and in the worst case, by decreasing the likelihood that sick patients will seek needed care.97

Hispanics’ low rates of insurance and reduced likelihood of having a

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