Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Hispanic Health Care Realities and Opportunities for the Future

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Hispanic Health Care Realities and Opportunities for the Future

Article excerpt

The dreary news first. Hispanic health realities are dismal for many in this country. The reasons stated include far too many Hispanics living in poverty, their inability to access assistance and inferior health care systems. It's getting better but progress is slow and the scars are deep.

Latino Health Disparities

In 2014, Families USA published "Latino Health Disparities Compared to Non-Hispanic Whites." It lists health disparities which undermine the stability of Hispanic families and communities.

Latinos are more likely to suffer from a greater variety of health conditions and they are more likely to get sicker, develop serious complications and not infrequently die from them.

Here are the most common problems:

* Hispanics are twice as likely to contract asthma.

* Hispanics are six times more likely to have tuberculosis.

* Hispanics are 15 times more likely to suffer from liver disease. This is particularly noted among those recent immigrants who may be heavy drinkers and smokers. Many agricultural workers perhaps due to environmental realities, insecticides and other chemicals, suffer from liver and kidney problems.

* Hispanics are 55 percent more likely to have deadly renal end diseases.

* Hispanics are 2.5 times more likely to die from HIV. Cultural machismo and embarrassment have kept many victims from coming forth and seeking treatment in a timely fashion.

* Sixty-five percent, male and female, are more likely to develop diabetes.

Hispanic Children

Children face a variety of serious health obstacles. Thirty percent are more likely to die as infants than Anglo children. Sixty percent are more likely to attempt suicide in high school, and 35 percent are likely to be obese. The need for serious restructuring of the health care system is obvious.

In January of 2015, The University of California -Los Angeles published a study about Hispanic health from the prospective of the changing Latino demographic in the United States.

That cohort presents a number of challenges to health care policy and led scientists Alexander N. Ortega, Hector P. Rodríguez, and Arturo Vargas Bustamante to study the issue. They noted previous studies had demonstrated that "Latinos tend to have the worse patterns of access to, and utilization of, health care than any other ethnic or racial group."

It is hoped that with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) some of the age old inequities will be addressed and ameliorated. However, even with the ACA, it is expected that Latinos will continue to have problems accessing high-quality health care, especially in states that are not expanding Medicaid eligibility as provided by the ACA.

The report identified four current policy dilemmas relevant to Latinos' health and ACA implementation:

(a) the need to extend coverage to the significant number of undocumented residents;

(b) the impact of growth of Latino populations in states with limited insurance expansion;

(c) demands on public and private systems of care; and

(d) the need to increase the number of Latino physicians while increasing the direct patient-care responsibilities of non-physician Latino health care workers.

Let me end this dismal litany on a lighter note: sedentary life.

For a number of years, Allied Health professions have circulated study after study strongly suggesting that a sedentary existence can lead to a series of cardiovascular diseases and premature death.

People, it is generally recognized, can be grateful for their inherited genes. Good genes will pull you through many childhood diseases. Even our adult years are heavily influenced, read protected, by the genes we inherited. But as we age, into our 60s, their influence can be diminished by our lifestyle choices. Smoking, excessive drinking, and poor eating habits wreck their havoc on us in our later years. We can no longer count on good genes to pull us through. …

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