Massachusetts Initiative To Help Hispanics, Brazilians Obtain Health Coverage

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Massachusetts Latino Health InsuranceProgram is seeking to expand its services to help more Boston-areaHispanics and Brazilians obtain health insurance before Dec. 31, the deadline by which all residents must obtain health coverage or face tax penalties, the Boston Globe reports. The Boston University School of Public Health runs the program.

Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System show that 22.6% of Hispanics in Boston's western suburbs are uninsured, and a 2001 study by the Wayside Youth & Family Support Network found that 93% of Brazilians in Framingham, Marlborough and Milford are uninsured.

Theprogram's goal is to help eligible Hispanics and Brazilians apply forhealth insurance. Because undocumented immigrants are ineligible forstate-subsidized and other public health insurance, they cannot bepenalized for not obtaining coverage, Milagros Abreu, director of theprogram, said.


The program also promotes preventive carethrough monthly workshops, as Hispanics are less likely than others tohave a primary care physician and more likely to use emergencydepartment services for routine health issues, Abreu said. It hasreceived support from various local churches and congregations and alsohas applied for a grant to boost outreach efforts.

Janet Yardley, medical director of the Framingham Community Health Center and chief medical officer of� the Great Brook Valley Health Center, said Hispanics might find it easier than Brazilians -- who primarilyspeak Portuguese -- to access the U.S. health care system because morepeople speak Spanish. Hispanics also tend to have lived in the U.S.longer and are eligible for more programs than Brazilians, she added.

Abreusaid, "It is necessary and mandatory for people to receive care foreasily preventable diseases," adding, "Clinics and hospitals have anobligation to the community" (Perez-Brennan, Boston Globe, 11/8).

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