Academic scholars and marketing firms are coming to different conclusions about why U.S. residents who identify themselves as Hispanic are less likely than other U.S. consumers to own life and health insurance.

A team of researchers led by James Reschovsky, a senior researcher at the Center for Study Health System Change, Washington, concludes in a paper published in the latest edition of Inquiry that low income, inability to speak English and lack of citizenship are responsible for the relatively low proportion of Hispanic Americans who are members of employer-sponsored health plans.

Hispanic Americans who speak English are much more like other U.S. residents in terms of employment experience and enrollment in employer-sponsored health plans than they are like Hispanic Americans who mainly speak Spanish, the researchers report.

Meanwhile, a private firm, Pegasus Insurance Group, Albuquerque, N.M., is reaching out to agents with a marketing campaign based on the proposition that, in the individual life insurance market, one important reason for low levels of life ownership is a lack of Hispanic American agents and non-Hispanic agents who are interested in learning how to sell to Hispanic American consumers.

One strategy is to work with property-casualty insurance agencies and title insurance carriers that already have large bases of Hispanic American customers, Pegasus says.