More Than a Quarter of Hispanics in U.S. Have No Regular Health Care Provider, According to Study
Twenty-seven percent of Hispanic adults in the U.S. do not have regular health care providers, although many of those adults have health insurance and speak English, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the San Jose Mercury News reports. For the study, researchers last summer conducted telephone surveys of 4,013 Hispanic adults in both English and Spanish (Davila, San Jose Mercury News, 8/13).
The study found that Hispanic men, younger adults, and those with less education or without health insurance were most likely to not have regular providers (Stewart, Newark Star-Ledger, 8/13). According to the study, about half of the Hispanic adults without regular providers had completed high school, and about 45% had health insurance. In addition, Hispanic adults born in the U.S. were more likely to have regular providers and health insurance than those born abroad and those who lived in the U.S. for only a short time, the study found.
The study found that 41% of Hispanic adults who did not have regular providers "say the principle reason is that they are seldom sick" (Abram, Contra Costa Times, 8/13). However, according to the study, Hispanic adults have a disproportionate rate of diabetes and obesity, which can place them at increased risk for heart disease and other serious health problems (Newark Star-Ledger, 8/13).
The study also found that 83% of Hispanic adults obtain health care information from media outlets like television (Contra Costa Times, 8/13). In addition, the study highlights the diversity within the population, according to Debra Joy Perez, senior program officer at RWJF. For example, the study found that Cubans and Puerto Ricans in the U.S. are more likely to consult traditional folk healers and that those who live closer to the U.S.-Mexico border more regularly seek health care outside the country (San Jose Mercury News, 8/13).
The study authors wrote, "When it comes to Latinos, what may appear to be the well-known effects of socioeconomic inequality on health care may also be conditioned by unique social, cultural and economic circumstances" (Contra Costa Times, 8/13). In addition, they said that the results of the study indicate the need for providers to encourage Hispanic adults to seek routine health care.
William Vega, a professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles who helped with the study, said, "That's the real gap I think we're facing: the ability to provide a medical home for a spectrum of this population" (San Jose Mercury News, 8/13).
The report is available online.
A webcast of an event examining how national health reform proposals address the health needs of Hispanics will be available online Thursday at kaisernetwork.org.