Population of Healthy Hispanics in California Could Help Reduce State Health Care Costs If They Were Part of Insurance Pool, Opinion Piece Says
"If properly incorporated, the inclusion of a few million more healthy, employed, low-service-use Latinos into the health insurance pool would provide a timely 'shock absorber' for the costs of the inevitable baby boomer crunch" over the next 20 to 30 years in California, David Hayes-Bautista, professor of medicine at University of California-Los Angeles and author of "La Nueva California: Latinos in the Golden State," writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece.
According to Hayes-Bautista, a "tidal wave of aging baby boomers is crashing down on our already troubled health care system, threatening to overwhelm our operating rooms ... and bankrupt insurers that will have to pay for lengthy recoveries from cancer and strokes." However, including more Hispanics in the health insurance pool could "help mitigate the approaching crisis," he adds. Compared with whites, Hispanics have lower mortality rates from heart disease, cancer and stroke -- the top causes of death in the U.S., Hayes-Bautista says. He writes that Hispanics also have an infant mortality rate almost equal to whites, a longer life expectancy than whites and a lower risk of chronic illness -- with the exception of diabetes -- than whites. At the same time, Hispanics are among the "most likely to be shut out of the insurance pool," see "doctors far less than whites do and utiliz[e] hospitals far less as well," he adds.
While Hispanics "do make substantial health care expenditures, ... these dollars are out of pocket, outside the insurance pool," Hayes-Bautista states. Many Hispanics work for small businesses that do not offer health insurance and have incomes too high to qualify for public health insurance, according to Hayes-Bautista. He adds, "Health insurance works best when the risks of the few are spread over the gains of the many," noting that the aging baby boomers are the riskiest population, while Hispanics on the whole are younger and healthier (Hayes-Bautista, Los Angeles Times, 10/6).