Hispanics’ Experience Navigating, Receiving Care Through Medicare Managed Care System Varies by Geographic Location, Language Used, Study Finds
Hispanics' experience with the Medicare managed care system and ability to obtain health services varies based on geographic location and language 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 of Healthcare Providers and Systems' Medicare managed care survey that was conducted in 2002. The survey focused on timeliness of care, provider communication, office staff helpfulness, ability to obtain needed care and customer service from health plans. It included responses from more than 125,000 Medicare beneficiaries, 7% of whom identified themselves as Hispanic.
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 patients face more language barriers in health care settings.
Spanish-speaking Hispanics, however, did report a more favorable experience than English-speaking Hispanics in dealing with the managed care aspects of the health care system, such as receiving needed care and communicating with customer service.
The study also found that Spanish-speaking Hispanics in Florida reported having experiences that were similar to or better than English-speaking Hispanics in all aspects of care, while those in California or the New York state/New Jersey region did not (HealthDay/Washington Post, 10/9). Weech-Maldonado said, "Eighty-six percent of the Spanish-speaking survey respondents from Florida live in the Miami area, the U.S. city with the highest proportion of Hispanic residents. Spanish is one of the primary languages in Miami, and there is an excellent network of Spanish-speaking health providers" (UF release, 10/9).
According to Weech-Maldonado, the findings suggest that improvements need to be made in language services, "not only because it's the right thing to do, but because it can impact patient reports of care and ultimately can influence quality of care" (HealthDay/Washington Post, 10/9).