Spanish for Healthcare: Hispanics and the Affordable Care Act

Spanish for Healthcare, Latinos, Affordable Care ActSince open enrollment began in 2013, 2.6 million Latinos have signed up for coverage under the ACA—roughly 25% of the 10.2 million that became eligible for coverage upon passage of the law. Of course, that number is only expected to rise with each open enrollment period.

Worth noting is that even families of “mixed status” (those with varying immigration status among the members of the family) are still eligible for new coverage under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Disproportionate Health Risks

Coverage for the Hispanic population is increasingly important because the diseases for which they are disproportionately at risk can be preventative in nature, if treated early.

  • In 2010, 31.9 percent of Latinos were obese, compared to 26.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites, with women having a greater likelihood.
  • Obesity, leading to diabetes, can extenuate the risk for heart disease later in life.
  • Latino women contract cervical cancer at 1.6 times the rate of non-Hispanic white women.
  • 13 percent fewer Latinos received a colorectal cancer screening in 2010 compared to whites.

Barriers to Enrolling Hispanics

According to Rosetta Stone Director of Healthcare Initiatives Owen Brewer, language concordance between Hispanic patients and their care providers can enable more productive healthcare encounters overall.  “When patients communicate through third party interpreters it can be more difficult to build the trust that leads to open communication, which is critical for every stage of a medical encounter” he relayed.

For example, in California there are only 50 Latino physicians for every 100,000 people. The waits for those doctors are considerably long. The alternative is translation by telephone or other, non-medical hospital personnel.

In the next post of the Spanish for Healthcare series, we’re going to dive deeper into the challenges these miscommunications present to the Hispanic community and the overall healthcare system.

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