A national study of the association between language use and health insurance coverage in the United States

Garth Nigel Graham, Rashida Dorsey

Abstract


Background: A significant proportion of individuals seen in US hospitals speak a language other than English. A number of reports have shown that individuals who speak a language other than English have diminished access to care, but few have examined specifically language barriers and its relationship to health insurance coverage.

Objectives: To estimate the impact of language use on prevalence of reported health insurance coverage across multiple racial and ethnic groups and among persons living in the U.S. for varying periods of time.

Design and participants: Cross sectional study using data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey.

Main measures: The main outcome measure is health insurance status.

Key results: Persons who spoke Spanish or a language other than English were less likely to have insurance. Among Hispanics who speak Spanish or a language other than English, only 50.6% report having health insurance coverage compared to 76.7% of Hispanics who speak only or mostly English. For non-Hispanic whites who speak Spanish or a language other than English, 71.7% report having health insurance coverage compared to 83.4% of non-Hispanic whites who speak only or mostly English, this same pattern was observed across all racial/ethnic groups. Among those speaking only or mostly English living in the U.S. <15 years had significantly lower adjusted odds of reporting health insurance coverage compared to those born in the United States.

Conclusions: This was a large nationally representative study describing language differences in insurance access using a multi-ethnic population. This data suggest that individuals who speak a language other than English are less likely to have insurance across all racial and ethnic groups and nativity and years in the United States groups, underscoring the significant independent importance of language as a predictor for access to insurance.



Full Text: PDF DOI: 10.5430/jha.v2n2p115

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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