Half of Texans experienced some kind of financial hardship because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a new survey finds.
The survey conducted by the Episcopal Health Foundation highlights how the pandemic affects people across the state from different household incomes, race, whether or not they have health insurance and other factors. Nearly 1,900 Texans were surveyed.
“From being uninsured to not having internet access for online school, Texans say these non-medical factors are not only shaping how they’re dealing with the pandemic, they also could be seriously affecting their future health in many different ways,” said Elena Marks, CEO of Episcopal Health Foundation.
Of the 50% of people who experienced financial hardship, roughly 22% of Texas residents, say they are facing “severe hardship,” the survey said, and about 28% of people are facing “moderate hardship.”
Those with less than $50,000 in household income were more likely to experience financial distress than those making more than $50,000, according to the survey. A third of all people surveyed said someone in their home lost a job, business or had work hours reduced.
Those who are deemed essential workers make up about 34% of Texans, the survey said. About 43% of essential workers are Hispanic, 38% are white, and 10% are Black. According to the survey, those who hold essential jobs are more likely to receive government assistance like food programs and Medicaid, and they are less likely to have health insurance.
Medical care was postponed or skipped altogether by 36% of people since the start of the pandemic, the survey found. Most Texans say their mental health is good, but 46% are worried about how stress related to the pandemic has had a negative impact on their health.
Texas continues to have the highest rate of people in the nation without health insurance. In Texas, 29% say they are uninsured.
The survey asked whether Texans were bracing for a worsening of the COVID-19 outbreak. Less than half said they were very concerned about another wave of coronavirus. Roughly 73% of Black Texans and 55% of Hispanic Texans say they’re very concerned about another wave, and about 33% of white Texans said they were also very concerned, the survey found.
However, most Texans do not believe the federal government is very prepared for another wave of COVID-19.
“These stark differences in concerns about the future show that COVID-19 is hitting Black and Hispanic Texans harder than anyone else,” Marks said. “These groups are seeing more deaths and serious complications from the virus because they’re more likely to already suffer chronic conditions related to where they live that make them more susceptible.”
Nearly 75% of Texans said they received financial assistance from the federal government in the form of unemployment benefits, small business loans, and direct stimulus payments. One-fourth of those who responded said they also received assistance from programs such as STAR Medicaid and supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP). Most Texans who received these benefits are Black or Hispanic, the survey said.
About 18% of people said they received help from a nonprofit organization, and 13% said they received food from a local food bank during the pandemic.
“This kind of information is crucial to letting government and other recovery efforts know what Texans need to recover from the pandemic,” Marks said. “We hope it helps make good decisions about how to reach those most in need with the help they need the most.”