State Estimates of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) by Health Insurance Status

Using 2012 data from the American Community Survey, this brief notes that, of an estimated 24.5 million people with limited English proficiency in the United States, over one-third (9.5 million people) did not have health insurance in 2012.

In total, people with limited English proficiency make up 8.6 percent of the American population, but they account for almost 21.7 percent of the uninsured population and 12 percent of the Medicaid population.

Uninsured people with limited English proficiency are at higher risk of not enrolling in Medicaid or health plans offered in the marketplaces, and people with LEP that are already covered may be at risk of not receiving interpretation services or medical care in other languages.

As the ACA continues to expand coverage, estimating the number of individuals with limited English proficiency by type of health insurance will help policy-makers and providers target language-based initiatives that reach LEP populations.