SANTA FE – Largely thanks to the Medicaid expansion, New Mexico’s rate of uninsured residents under 65 years old is 10.5%, or lower than the national average of 11.2%.
But the state could do a better job of reaching out to Native Americans and non-English speakers about health insurance.
That’s the conclusion of a study by the Urban Institute, a research organization committed to strengthening communities, that was funded by the New Mexico Human Services Department.
New Mexico was one of 33 states that chose to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to low-income adults who are not disabled.
“With this data from the Urban Institute, the administration can tackle the challenge of increasing coverage and improving affordability for the over 187,000 New Mexicans, under age 65, who remain uninsured and the thousands more who are underinsured, struggling to pay for their medical care due to high out-of-pocket costs,” said Abuko D. Estrada, coverage innovation officer with HSD’s Medical Assistance Division. Medicare typically covers people starting at age 65.
The report found that Native Americans have the highest proportion of uninsured people of any ethnic group in New Mexico.
About 16% of Native residents report being uninsured, totaling about 37,000 people, or one-fifth of all uninsured people in the state.
Hispanics are the next group most likely to be uninsured in New Mexico. The Urban Institute study found that 11.9% of the state’s Hispanics lack health insurance. These 105,000 people make up more than half of the uninsured population.
Among state residents who do not speak English, the uninsured rate is 34.4%, suggesting that more outreach needs to be conducted in Spanish.
The report says men are more likely not to have health insurance (11.8%) than women (9.2%).
Sandoval County has the lowest percentage of residents who are uninsured (7.5%), according to the report, while a rural section of the state defined as Northwest but not including Farmington, Bloomfield and Aztec had the highest rate of uninsured residents (16.0%). This region is largely Indian Country. The rates of uninsured for Albuquerque and Santa Fe County were 9.7% and 12.8%, respectively.
The study was conducted using a modeling system developed by the Urban Institute that relied on data from the American Community Survey.