Hispanics' Experience Navigating, Receiving Care Through Medicare Managed Care System

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Hispanics' experience with the Medicare managed care system and abilityto obtain health services varies based on geographic location andlanguage barriers, according to a report published in Health Services Research, HealthDay/Washington Post reports (HealthDay/Washington Post, 10/9).

For the report, lead researcher Robert Weech-Maldonado, an associate professor at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions,and colleagues analyzed data from the Consumer Assessments ofHealthcare Providers and Systems' Medicare managed care survey that wasconducted in 2002. The survey focused on timeliness of care, providercommunication, office staff helpfulness, ability to obtain needed careand customer service from health plans. It included responses from morethan 125,000 Medicare beneficiaries, 7% of whom identified themselvesas Hispanic.

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Overall, Hispanics who spoke Spanish reported more negative experiences than Hispanics speaking English (UF release,10/9). Spanish-speaking Hispanics reported less-favorable experiences,particularly when communicating with care providers or office staff,the study found, which indicates the possibility that such patientsface more language barriers in health care settings.

Spanish-speakingHispanics, however, did report a more favorable experience thanEnglish-speaking Hispanics in dealing with the managed care aspects ofthe health care system, such as receiving needed care and communicatingwith customer service.

The study also found thatSpanish-speaking Hispanics in Florida reported having experiences thatwere similar to or better than English-speaking Hispanics in allaspects of care, while those in California or the New York state/NewJersey region did not (HealthDay/Washington Post, 10/9).Weech-Maldonado said, "Eighty-six percent of the Spanish-speakingsurvey respondents from Florida live in the Miami area, the U.S. citywith the highest proportion of Hispanic residents. Spanish is one ofthe primary languages in Miami, and there is an excellent network ofSpanish-speaking health providers" (UF release, 10/9).

Accordingto Weech-Maldonado, the findings suggest that improvements need to bemade in language services, "not only because it's the right thing todo, but because it can impact patient reports of care and ultimatelycan influence quality of care" (HealthDay/Washington Post, 10/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth 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, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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