The Associated Press February 24, 2010, 4:15PM ET

Nebraska uninsured rates highest among minorities

High percentages of minorities, foreign-born residents and college-aged people in Nebraska lack health insurance, according to new report released Wednesday.

The Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha compiled the report based on U.S. Census data. It shows nearly 190,000 Nebraskans, or almost 11 percent of the population, had no health insurance coverage in 2008.

Uninsured rates were highest among Hispanic and black residents, the report said, with 28 percent of Hispanics in Nebraska lacking coverage and 22 percent of blacks lacking coverage. That compared with 8 percent of white residents in Nebraska.

Nationally, nearly 31 percent of Hispanics lacked coverage, while 19 percent of blacks and 14.5 percent of whites were uninsured.

More than a third of Nebraska's foreign-born population, at 35 percent, were uninsured, compared with 9 percent for those born in the United States. Forty-five percent of foreign-born Nebraskans who are not U.S. citizens -- regardless of legal status -- were uninsured, the report said.

A high percentage of Nebraska's college-age and early working age residents also were without health care coverage, the report said, with 22 percent of those 18 to 24 and 17 percent of those 25 to 34 being uninsured.

While the report showed those subgroups had higher percentages lacking coverage, the vast majority of Nebraskans without health insurance -- about 123,000 -- were white.

Nebraskans experiencing economic hardships have higher uninsured rates, the report said. Forty-two percent of the unemployed, 28 percent of those in poverty, and 21 percent of those receiving food stamps did not have health insurance.

The report's numbers came from an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey results. In Nebraska, about 17,500 households provided responses to that questionnaire.

The report follows one issued by Families USA last summer that said 220 Nebraska residents were losing access to health care coverage every week. The Nebraska Appleseed Center also released a report last June that said the full cost of company-sponsored health insurance is expected to rise 7.9 percent a year in Nebraska, compared with an estimated annual 1.2 percent increase in income.


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