Everything is Bigger in Texas: Including Women’s Access to Healthcare

Bigger in Texas

With its ever-expanding population, unique geographical challenges and shortage of physicians, Texas has some glaring issues with its healthcare system. One note-worthy challenge is that Texas has a surprisingly large population of women whose healthcare needs fall through the cracks.

According to the Texas Medical Association, nearly 60% of women in Texas lack health insurance. About 700,000 of these women lack care because of the “coverage gap”. This gap includes those who earn too much for Medicaid but too little to qualify for subsidies to help buy private insurance. Without coverage, these women forego needed care, particularly preventative care. Texas has programs to serve as a safety net for this population include the Expanded Primary Health Care program (EPHC). However, the programs only have capacity to serve about a quarter of the women who qualify. In addition to underserving women in general, Texas has a large teen pregnancy problem with one of the highest rates nationwide at 34.6%[1]. The statistics bring even more questions to light when we take a moment to look at these stats by ethnicity.

Teen pregnancy across every ethnicity is lower in Texas than the US average; except for pregnancy among Hispanic teens.  A whopping 65% of teen pregnancies in Texas belong to Hispanic girls. The national average is 35%. Why does Texas have nearly double the US average of Hispanic teen pregnancies? One might suppose that Texas has a proportionally larger Hispanic population therefore the average rate of just about anything will be higher. However, California and Arizona have large Hispanic populations as well and their teen birth rates for the population are 34%[2] and 40%[3] respectively. The only state with a higher Hispanic teen pregnancy rate is New Mexico with an overall Hispanic population of 42%[4] and a 70% teen pregnancy rate[5].

This begs the question, what does this mean for long term cultural and socio-economic impacts on the state.   What can we do as individuals and healthcare providers to help move the needle for underserved or underinsured populations.  What are the contributing factors in Texas and what are some possible solutions? Join us in our next issue when we explore some of the possibilities including the use of telemedicine, and other innovations in healthcare, to start addressing women’s health one person at a time.

 

[1] Center for Disease Control. (2015). Health, United States 2015. Retrieved from Center for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus15.pdf
[2] Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health. (2013). Kidsdata.org Data by Demographic Group. Retrieved from kidsdata.org: kidsdata.org
[3] Healthy Communities Institute and the Arizona Department of Health Services. (2017). Arizona Health Matters Community Data. Retrieved from Arizona Health Matters: www.arizonahealthmatters.org/
[4] Census Bureau. (2016, July 1). Quick Facts. Retrieved from United States Census Bureau Quick Facts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/
[5] New Mexico Department of Health. (2017). New Mexico's Indicator-Based Information System - Explore Datasets. Retrieved from New Mexico's Indicator-Based Information System: https://ibis.health.state.nm.us/
Hopeful woman