Hispanics In U.S. Have Growing Health Insurance Needs

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Hispanics who move to the United States increase their risk for cancer by as much as 40 percent and thus have an even greater need for health insurance coverage.

Researchers blame the American lifestyle. Of three Hispanic subgroups studied by researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Puerto Ricans had the highest cancer rates and Mexicans the lowest. The risk of cancer among Cubans was close to that of whites, the researchers found.

An estimated 745,000 men and nearly 700,000 women are diagnosed with cancer every year according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, a non-profit industry organization which advocates health insurance planning for all individuals. Some 565,000 Americans die each year from cancer according to their spokesperson.

The study took place in Florida, home to about 2.7 million Hispanics and an ideal setting for a study on immigration and cancer, the study's authors noted. Using data from the Florida cancer registry for 1999 to 2001 and the 2000 U.S. Census, the team looked at cancer rates in the places of origin and compared them with cancer rates for those groups in Florida.

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Hispanics had lower cancer rates than whites and blacks in Florida, but researchers found that Cubans and Puerto Ricans quickly acquired higher risk for diet-related cancers. Cuban men had more tobacco-related cancers than seen in their homeland, Puerto Rican men had higher rates of liver cancer, and Mexican women had higher rates of cervical cancer, the researchers noted. Health insurance industry experts note cancer is one of the more costly conditions to treat.

Among Cubans and Mexicans in Florida, the risk for colorectal cancer was more than double the risk in Cuba and Mexico. The same was true for lung cancer among Mexican and Puerto Rican women in Florida compared with women in their homelands, the researchers found.

These differences should be taken into account when developing cancer prevention programs and educational programs which include discussions of health insurance and critical illness insurance for Hispanic groups in the United States.

Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, applauded the report. "This study is significant in that it confirms some trends we've been seeing in the last few years, mainly that different U.S. Hispanic population groups -- Cubans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans -- have higher incidence rates of certain cancers than they do in their homelands," Ramirez said. "They also tend to have worse cancer outcomes due to less access to health care and late diagnosis."

Population projections indicate that about one in every three people in the United States will be Hispanic by 2050.

Written by Jesse Slome from the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance

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