Since 2003, Latinos have become the largest minority group in the United States, composing over 12.5% of the population. Unfortunately, many Latinos are not able to access healthcare in a meaningful way, as barriers of availability, accessibility, affordability and adaptability create a difficult environment for Latinos to navigate. Due to issues such as the diverse characteristics of Latino populations, socioeconomic status, lack of citizenship, and linguistic capabilities, the Latino population as a whole experiences some of the most alarming disparities in healthcare access and delivery. In the 2005 National Healthcare Quality Report (produced by the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Reform), 88% of Latinos reported worsening conditions for accessing healthcare and 53% reported worse quality of those services that they were receiving, more than any other ethnic group and second only to the general poor income group. Even though many of the difficulties Latinos face in healthcare can be attributed to their immigrant status (legal or illegal) and their socioeconomic situation, cultural competency within the healthcare system also has a great impact on how well Latinos access health services.
[...] Conclusions: The disparities that Latinos are experiencing in their health and healthcare usage develop from the complexities of their immigrant status, their cultural perceptions, their socioeconomic standing, and the nuances of the United States healthcare system. Within these structures, cultural competency in health care and education has still the ability to significantly affect Latino health. Healthcare should incorporate culture into its delivery in a sustainable and comprehensive manner through cultural competency policies that make cultural competency more mainstream throughout the outlets for health that Latinos utilize. [...]
[...] Health care utilization, family context, and adaptation among immigrants to the United States. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 35:4, 370-384. Institute of Medicine. (2002). Speaking of Health: Assessing health communication strategies for diverse populations. [lvi] Dávila, Arlene. Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and making of a people. University of California Press [lvii] Dávila, Arlene. Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and making of a people. University of California Press [lviii] Dávila, Arlene. Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and making of a people. University of California Press [lix] Dávila, Arlene. [...]
[...] the most significant difference between Latinos and other minority groups though is their language ability, for of all the native Spanish speakers in the United States do not speak English and 10% do not speak English at all.[?] These legal, economic and social factors make healthcare a more challenging process for Latinos, so it perhaps not surprising that 33% of Latinos are uninsured, compared to 10% of non-Hispanic whites.[?] Despite the presence of federal and local safety nets for social welfare (such as Medicaid and community health centers), the United States is not structured to provide health coverage for all its residents. [...]
[...] Open Communication Training: “Open Communication” training would be cultural competency education focused on improving the patients' understanding of the health system from a Spanish to English perspective, and would assist Latinos in recognizing the basic cultural and lingual barriers that they might encounter when interacting with the United States healthcare system. These community classes could be held at the healthcare institutions themselves, or other community settings, and would involve language assistance specific to the medical setting, as well as information to improve the patient's understanding of the medical system, medical diagnosis, insurance, etc. [...]
[...] In other words, programming and policy aimed at reducing disparities in Latino health must go through their own form of acculturation to meet the needs of Latinos, just as Latinos undergo acculturation to better adapt to the many of the systems in the United States. Medicaid's efforts towards linguistic improvement may not always translate into the “real world” of the healthcare delivery since Medicaid only accounts for a portion of the total healthcare realm. Currently 18% of Latinos utilize Medicaid as their route to health services and coverage, but this leaves 82% who must access health through outlets that are not subject to Medicaid's linguistic requirements.[?] More importantly however, Medicaid's (and the federal government's) parochial emphasis on linguistics sets the stage for underdeveloped cultural resources for Latinos. [...]
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