The 2020 Census: Why it is Important and How it Affects Healthcare


Photo Credit: Enayet Raheem/Unsplash

Adriana James-Rodil, Contributing Writer, Tampa FL


Wednesday, Sep. 30, is the final day to fill out the Census. However, Pew Research Center found that 4 out of 10 individuals living in the U.S. who have yet to complete the Census said they would not open their door to Census workers. Among those who have yet to complete it are likely those who have been undercounted in previous Census years.


In 2010, “the non-Hispnic white alone population was overcounted by 0.8 percent.” However, 2.1% of Blacks and 1.5% of Hispanics were undercounted as “heavily Black or Hispanic neighborhoods have lower participation rates than heavily white neighborhoods,” Pew Research Center states. 


Common misconceptions surrounding the Census may be a cause of lower participation rates among these groups. For example, many believe it contains a question regarding citizenship and that it only counts citizens. However, despite President Trump’s administration attempting to include a citizenship question, it was blocked by federal courts. In addition, the Census counts all people living in the U.S. — including those who have a green card or are undocumented.  


The Census not only paints a picture of the demographics of the United States, but it also impacts the lives of individuals in each state, city, and town. It determines the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives, which communities are in need of new schools, clinics, roads, services, etc., and how federal funding is allocated to over 100 programs. 


Therefore, if dominantly Hispanic and Black communities are undercounted, they will receive less aid from the federal government to improve their lives and also lack representation in Congress, thus hindering the future passing of legislation that is specific to these communities. Urban Wire describes this as, “[the] differential counting in our census means that wealthier, white communities receive ‘more than their fair share’ of resources and representation.”


To add, those who have been undercounted in previous decennial years are projected to also be undercounted in 2020, which poses an issue as some Hispanics and Blacks experience income inequality. Pew Research Center conducted a study that found in both the years 1960 and 2016, Blacks and Hispanics had higher percentages of incomes less than $40,000 compared to Whites. As a result, those who have yet to complete the Census are those most in need of federal assistance, especially when it comes to health.


Key health programs whose funding is determined based on the Census includes Medicaid, mental health services, and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). 


Medicaid is the single largest source of health coverage in the United States” as federal law requires states to provide it to those from low-income families, certain children and pregnant women, and individuals receiving Social Security Income. 


Moreover, the Census allocates funding to those with mental illness by providing housing, Medicaid, transportation, and more. Yet, like Black and Hispanics, those with mental illnesses have been historically undercounted as National Alliance of Mental Health CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. states.


SNAP is also a crucial program that impacts families’ health as it “provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move towards self-sufficiency.”


It is not too late to fill out the Census, and it can be done online or by the phone or mail. Go to or call 844-330-2020 to begin. Below are also “tips” regarding how to assist your family in completing the Census.