U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Access to Care

People living on the U.S.–Mexico border face numerous barriers to accessing health care, including high rates of uninsurance and limited access to health care facilities. People who are uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to seek health care, which can result in poor health outcomes and higher health care costs. In 2007, more than one-quarter of adults in the U.S. border region lacked health insurance (26.7 percent), compared to 16.7 percent of adults in the total U.S. population. When considering only adults aged 18–64 years, 31.2 percent of those in the U.S. border region lacked health insurance, compared to 19.6 percent of those in the general U.S. population (data not shown).

Among adults aged 18–64 years in the U.S. border region, men were more likely than women to lack health insurance overall (32.9 versus 29.6 percent, respectively) and in most age groups. Among both men and women, rates of uninsurance decreased as age increased. Among women, 35.6 percent of 18-to 34-year-olds lacked health insurance, compared to 26.8 percent of those aged 35–54 years, and 22.8 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds.

Among women aged 18–64 years, just more than half reported having private health insurance in 2007, while 13.4 percent had public insurance, and 6.2 percent had both private and public insurance (data not shown).

Another indicator of access to health care is the rate at which adults receive preventive screenings and recommended tests. Cholesterol screenings are recommended at least every 5 years to detect high cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. In 2007, 69.1 percent of adults in the U.S. border region reported receiving a cholesterol screening within the previous 5 years, slightly less than the U.S. population overall (74.8 percent; data not shown). Cholesterol screening increased with age among both men and women. Among women in the U.S. border region, those aged 65 years and older were most likely to have received the screening in the past 5 years (91.6 percent) followed by 45- to 64-year-olds (84.0 percent), while those aged 18–34 years were least likely to have been screened (50.8 percent).

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