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Omaha, Council Bluffs Latinos less likely to have insurance

Latinos in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area are four times as likely to go without health insurance as the rest of the population, according to a report by the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The report found that from 2008 to 2010, 36 percent of Latinos had no health insurance compared with 9.1 percent of non-Latinos.

The report was one of two issued jointly by UNMC and the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Office of Latino and Latin American Studies.

Both examined the health status of Latinos, whose population in the area has seen a boom. The Latino population in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area grew by more than 90 percent from 2000 to 2010. The white population grew by 6 percent and the black population by about 14 percent.

The UNMC report, headed by researcher Jim Stimpson, also tries to assess the impact that the federal Affordable Care Act will have on insurance coverage for Latinos.

With Medicaid expansion, the percentage of people who are uninsured would shrink by about half, the report says. Some would go on Medicaid, some would receive insurance through work, and others would obtain coverage through the online exchange called for by the new federal health care law.

States will decide, though, whether to expand their Medicaid programs as part of the federal law. That issue is still being debated in Nebraska and Iowa.

The Stimpson report says that even with the federal health care law, thousands of Latinos will remain uninsured, including undocumented immigrants. Some who have been living legally in the United States for less than five years also wouldn't qualify for certain forms of coverage, Stimpson said.

Other findings in the reports:

╗ One-quarter of adult Latinos in the metro area had no health care provider, compared with 16 percent of whites and 18 percent of blacks.

╗ About 13 percent of adult Latinos in the metro area reported not seeing a doctor in the previous year because of the cost. Nine percent of whites and 25.2 percent of blacks reported that decision.

╗ Although unemployment in Nebraska was more than twice as high for Latinos (11.3ápercent) as whites in 2010, the black unemployment rate was eight percentage points higher (19.4 percent) than that for Latinos. Latinos in Nebraska were heavily concentrated in “low-skill” occupations such as services, construction and meatpacking, one of the reports said.

╗ Unintentional injuries from 2006-2010 were the third-leading cause of death for Latinos in Nebraska, accounting for 13.9 percent of deaths. Unintentional deaths include car wrecks and occupational accidents. Those injuries accounted for 4.5ápercent of white Nebraskans' deaths and ranked as their fifth-leading cause of death.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1123, rick.ruggles@owh.com twitter.com/rickruggles




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