Report Highlights Hispanic Health Care Issues in Montgomery County, Md., Makes Recommendations for Improvement
Many Hispanics living in Montgomery County, Md., are uninsured, have limited access to medical care, face cultural and language barriers, and experience other obstacles that affect their health status, according to a recent county report, the Washington Post reports.
The report, "Blueprint for Latino Health in Montgomery County, Maryland 2008-2012," is a snapshot of the Hispanic community's health and follows a similar report that detailed data from 2002 to 2006. The report was completed by the Montgomery County Latino Health Initiative in partnership with Latino Health Steering Committee, an 18-member community panel. Findings are based on focus group interviews, data from lawmakers, census reports, state data, and a variety of other county studies and research.
According to the report, more than 50% of Hispanics in the county are uninsured and about the same proportion do not have a primary care physician. Hispanics who had not seen a physician in the past year cited cost as the reason. Hispanics often found that accessing mental health care services, counseling and substance abuse treatment was more difficult than obtaining basic health care services, according to the report. The report also noted that Hispanics in the county "are all too often forgoing health services because they worry this will lead to their deportation."
The report made several recommendations, including:
- Improving data collection on diseases that affect Hispanics, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV/AIDS, obesity, suicide and liver disease;
- Expanding low-income safety-net services and programs;
- Improving cultural competency and language barriers in county health programs;
- Establishing a grant program to expand Hispanic community organizations;
- Developing diverse and creative funding sources for efforts that benefit Hispanics;
- Including more Hispanics on county boards, committees and commissions;
- Boosting health care prevention efforts; and
- Hiring more Hispanic health care providers (St. George, Washington Post, 6/26).
The report is available online (.pdf). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.