Resolving disparities in access to health care suffered from Latinx who reside in the U.S. includes the ability to understand the barriers created as a consequence of limited acculturation which is further compounded by social determinant of health indicators such as living situation, education, and access to social capital
By Karen Mancera-Cuevas MS, MPH, CHES
Senior Project Manager at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago USA
Latinx Who Reside in the U.S. and Availability of Accessible Health Care Resources
Access to care is a challenge for many individuals from Latin American nations who reside in the United States. Compounding factors include limited financial resources to obtain care, language difficulty, and insurance restrictions due to immigration status. Because of such realities, public health morbidity and mortality outcomes are highly influenced by such social determinants of health.
Statistics from the Pew Hispanic Fund 1 demonstrate that a significant proportion of the Latinx population represent lower socioeconomic strata and are underinsured (25% of Latinx lack health insurance). More than 1/3 of Latinx adults who are neither citizens nor permanent residents have no usual health care provider 2. Additionally, more than 41% of non-citizen Latinx seek primary health care services through safety net health centers 2. The representative population also has fewer physician visits and lower health expenditures 3.
In order to resolve health care access issues, at least for individuals of Mexican descent, many travel to Mexico for health care services and treatment 4 due to primarily health insurance reasons that preclude access to even regular preventive care 5. Understanding the influence of culturally-congruent care is also significant and is a contributing factor as to why many Latinx seek services in their countries of origin 6. Such individuals may also perceive a lack of quality health care in the U.S., which fosters the need to return to the respective Latin American country of origin 7.
Factors such as acculturation also potentially effect health seeking behaviors in the targeted population as studies have found that individuals with lower levels of acculturation perceived greater discrimination, lower quality of health treatment, and greater challenges understanding written information about their medical condition 8. A study 9 revealed that having health insurance and high-quality health care are essential to eliminate access gaps in the health care.
A great opportunity to reduce the gap of access to care services is then by further exploring the impact of immigration reform elicited by efforts of public health professionals who can also address health disparities encountered by the Latinx population nationwide. There is ongoing awareness to address the multitude of barriers to improve availability of health care resources to Latinx recent immigrants. Ultimately resolving these health care disparities in the future includes the ability to understand the barriers created as a consequence of limited acculturation which is further compounded by social determinant of health indicators such as living situation, education, and access to social capital.
- http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/26/higher-share-of-hispanic-immigrants-than-u-s-born-lack-health-insurance/ retrieved November 23, 2017.
- http://www.pewhispanic.org/2009/09/25/hispanics-health-insurance-and-health-care-access/ retrieved November 23, 2017.
- Collins, S. C., Hall, A., & Heuhaus, C., 1999. U.S. minority health: A chartbook. New York: Commonwealth Fund.
- Wallace, S.P., Mendez-Luck, C., and Castaneda, X., 2009. Heading south: why Mexican immigrants in California seek health services in Mexico. Medical Care, 47 (6), 662-669
- Byrd, T.L. and Law, J.G., 2009. Cross-border utilization of health care services by United States residents living near the Mexican border. Pan American Journal of Public Health, 26 (2), 95-100.
- Horton, S. and Cole, S., 2011. Medical returns: seeking health care in Mexico. Social Science & Medicine, 72, 1846-1852.
- Rodriguez, M.A., Bustamante, A.V., and Ang, A., 2009. Perceived quality of care, receipt of preventive care, and usual source of health care among undocumented and other Latinos. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 24 (3), 508-513.
- Becerra, D., Androff, D., Messing, J., Castillo, J & Cimino, A. 2015 Linguistic Acculturation and Perceptions of Quality, Access, and Discrimination in Health Care Among Latinos in the United States, Social Work in Health Care 54(2).
- DeJesus, M & Xiao, C., 2013. Cross-border health care utilization among the Hispanic population in the United States: implications for closing the health care access gap., Ethnicity & Health, 18 (3), 297-314.