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Hispanics Face Health Care Barriers

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Hispanics in Connecticut are more likely than other ethnic groups to experience "familial cancer, poor access to preventive health care and isolation due to language barriers," and they also have disproportionate rates of diabetes and heart disease, the New York Times reports. The state's Hispanic leaders for years have said that inadequate health care, unhealthy diets and a lack of Spanish-speaking medical providers have contributed to poorer health among Hispanics.

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the National Institute for Latino Policy:

* 17% percent of Hispanic children in the state have asthma, the highest incidence of any group of children in the state;

* Two out of three Hispanic adults are overweight or obese;

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* Hispanic women are more likely to die of breast and cervical cancer than non-Hispanic women;

* The state's Hispanics are more likely to be hospitalized for diabetes-related conditions, and die from the disease than non-Hispanics; and

* Hispanics account for 40% of the state's uninsured and represent 11% of the state's population.

In addition, the Hispanic Health Council reports that 44% of the state's Hispanic population said they have difficulty communicating with their doctors. Hispanic leaders recently held a conference to discuss solutions for the health care disparities. Elena Rios, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Medical Association and keynote speaker of the event, urged for the creation of universal health care, reimbursing doctors for health education as part of routine office visits, training more Hispanic health professionals and providing more mobile health clinics.

Other efforts to address the issue created an agenda that stated how to make Hispanics more vocal in the government by the Hispanic Health Council, and Gov. Jodi Rell (R) recently restored funding for a Medicaid program that paid for medical interpreters that had been cut by 25% because of budget concerns. The Legislature also ordered that the Department of Social Services implement the interpretation service program by the summer (Gordon, New York Times, 12/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.