Byline: Wendy Moncada firstname.lastname@example.org
It's a hard fact to swallow -- many men, primarily Hispanic, don't visit a doctor or health care facility on a regular basis. As a result, they risk putting their health in jeopardy.
"It's a tough thing. They aren't somebody that is walking off the street and into this office. It's harder for them. I think it's a trust thing," said RosaMarie Jensen, a registered nurse who works part-time at the Palatine Opportunity Center's Vista health clinic.
And Jensen knows her stuff. She encounters these men on a daily basis in her health classes, at clinics and during personal consultations. Jensen works through a grant administered by Northwest Community Hospital. She managed Northwest Community's health clinic in Rolling Meadows for 10 years.
"As a rule, I see that it's the wife encouraging them to come or asking the questions," said Jensen, who is bilingual and originally from Lima, Peru.
Studies have confirmed Jensen's observations. According to the 2008 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, Hispanic and black men were 10 percent less likely than white men to see a physician.
Men tend to be the primary breadwinners in Hispanic families and therefore don't prioritize health care visits over spending time with family, like men from other cultures do, Jensen said. Cultural traits regarding family dynamics and language barriers are factors discouraging Hispanic men from seeking health care. But these are not the main cause.
"Insurance is the main issue and then the lack of information available to them. But once they have the information, it's about then finding where they can get services they can afford," Jensen said. "Sometimes, they just don't understand the whole system. They don't realize they can go for a yearly checkup under their insurance."
In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 32 percent of the Hispanic population was not covered by health insurance, as compared to about 10 percent of the non-Hispanic white population. According to later surveys, Hispanics still have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group within the U.S., while also having higher rates of obesity and diabetes than all other populations.
Health care professionalsbelieve the key to preventive care is being up to date with annual wellness visits and screenings. Health checkups are opportunities for men to discuss their health concerns with primary physicians and get tested for diseases before symptoms arise.
On Feb. 9, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a $750 million investment in prevention and public health as part of the recent Affordable Care Act. The act was designed to expand and sustain the nation's capacity to "prevent disease, detect it early, manage conditions before they become severe, and provide states the resources they need to promote healthy living."
Local Health Clinics with Free Services:
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