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The Healthcare Plight of the Hispanic Population in the United State

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The Healthcare Plight of the Hispanic Population in the United States
Joanne Cortez
Grand Canyon University March 13, 2016

The Healthcare Plight of the Hispanic Population in the United States
Disparities in healthcare for Hispanic communities in the United States remains an alarming trend. Social and political inequities bare much of the responsibility of this humanitarian and economic crisis of healthcare. The burden of poverty, prejudice, racial discrimination, immigration status, language barrier, and lack of education are not easily solved and will continue until greater understanding of the complexities of Hispanic communities are better understood. With greater knowledge of the diverseness of this group and the application of social programs and awareness driven by stakeholders and Hispanic consumers of health, will divides be bridged and progress towards a healthier population be realized. This discussion will shed light on the rise of the Hispanic population and the continued barriers to equitable healthcare fostered by social and political disparities. This document will also outline an up and coming group with a potential for political leverage and a brighter future enabling future generations of Hispanics access to all levels of primary, secondary and tertiary care.
Population and health status of Hispanics
The Pew Research Center compiled findings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey that showed 51.9 million Hispanics lived in the U.S. in 2011. This finding is an increase of 48% from 2000. In 2011 Hispanics make up 17% of the U.S. population compared to 13% in 2000. Hispanics who are born in the U.S. is up from 36% in the year 2000 to 64% in 2011. In 2011 two-thirds of the U.S Hispanic population is of Mexican origin. Mexican origin Hispanics in 2011 is 33.5 million (65%), Puerto Rican Hispanics make up 4.9 million (9%), Salvadoran Hispanic 2.0 million (4%), Cuban Hispanic 1.9 million (4%), Dominican Hispanics 1.5 million (3%) and all other Hispanics 8.1 million (16%). The poverty rate for Hispanics is 26% in 2011, higher overall than the U.S. total of 16% and 30% of Hispanics are uninsured compared to Blacks at 19%, Asians at 16% and Whites at 11% (Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends, 2016). These trends demonstrate increased populations from diverse Hispanic backgrounds, increasing levels of poverty and growing disparity for affordable healthcare.
The Health status of the Hispanic population has disproportionally high rates of disease burden that lead to chronic illness, debilitating conditions and expensive treatments. According to the National Center for Health Statistics cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S as well as the leading cause of death for Hispanics in the U.S. Cancer is the second leading cause of death for Hispanics. The prevalence of diabetes in the Hispanic population among Mexican-Americans are almost twice that of non-Hispanic Whites (Askim-Lovseth & Aldana, 2010). Diabetes is cause by various factors in people of Hispanic origins. Heritage is an important factor in the risk for diabetes. Mexican Americans carry 30% of their genetic heritage from American Indians and Puerto Ricans a 40% genetic heritage from Africans. American Indians and Africans both have known high rates of diabetes. Hispanic Americans generally have a higher rate of obesity and physical inactivity predisposing this group to diabetes. Unhealthy cycles begin early in Hispanic children. Due to the prevalence of poverty there is less availability of healthy food choices. In poorer neighborhoods of Hispanic communities, crime levels are high making it unsafe to play outside. They also lack indoor and outdoor recreation areas that could provide activity and play.
Barriers to health and influencing factors
Political representation for Hispanics is inadequate as funding to create more social programs has waxed and waned throughout the years. Prior to 1996 legal immigrants were eligible for Medicaid, but with the approval of the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act the limitations for coverage increased, which contributed to recent immigrants having less opportunity of having some type of health insurance (Fremstad &Cox, 2004). Education also falls into the same category due to restrictions for college education for children of illegal immigrants. Infants and small children who were brought to the U.S. illegally however through no fault of their own are being denied a college education or service in the military to allow them a path to citizenship. Most of these children know no other home (The White House, 2010). The dream act however has recently been instituted by President Barrack Obama but because of fierce opposition from the Republican Party it is uncertain if this window of opportunity will be repealed after he is out of office in January of 2017. Education is well known to have a positive impact on health determinants. Those with more education tend to have better health, healthier behaviors and lifestyles, ability to support nurturing human development, and healthier relationships, which foster family and community wellbeing. In turn a person’s overall well-being reduces the need for healthcare, associated costs and decreases human plight in many ways (Feinstein, Sabates, Anderson, Sorhaindo, & Hammond, 2006).
Health promotion and a time for change
As demographics have changed the scheme for the future is beginning to take shape. Representation for Hispanic communities is growing and new approaches to healthcare have taken root and will need to quickly expand. Stake holders who understand the need for improving the quality of care are taking initiatives and spreading the word in powerful ways such as the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson foundation to name a few. Hispanic consumers themselves are in a position to carry power though unity and voting for change. Measures for the implementation particularly of primary health promotion is being added to protocols all around the nation which presents an intuitive way to harness best outcomes for the Hispanic community as a whole. This fundamental approach to preventive care is beneficial to all people without regard to ethnicity, race or culture. Benefits of this approach will promote healthy behaviors, prevent diseases and associated complications, and encourage follow-up and management of disease processes.
The Hispanic community has sustained unprecedented growth without improved measures for healthcare sustainability. As we evolve in our understanding of the need for social equity and the betterment of society as a whole, it is a nation that must move for change in order to end the plight of a group that have deep roots and an embedded history in the success of this nation. The healthcare industry is marching forward and taking a proactive stance on learning cultural competencies to enhance the delivery of primary care information. Healthcare providers are developing an understanding of levels of care and treatment to enhance the framework that provides better outcomes to our Hispanic communities. Eliminating the aforementioned disparities, the continued push for changes and the addition of new and grander reforms it is conceivable that the improved quality of life for this group will impact us all in many unforeseen positive ways to come.

Askim-Lovseth M K Aldana A 2010 Looking beyond "affordable" health care:Cultural understanding and sensitivity-necessities in addressing the health care disarities of the U.S. Hispanic population.Askim-Lovseth, M. K., & Aldana, A. (2010). Looking beyond "affordable" health care: Cultural understanding and sensitivity-necessities in addressing the health care disparities of the U.S. Hispanic population. Health Marketing Quarterly, 27(4), 354-387. 201603130347181924234987
Feinstein L Sabates R Anderson T M Sorhaindo A Hammond C 2006 What are the effects of education on healthFeinstein, L., Sabates, R., Anderson, T. M., Sorhaindo, A., & Hammond, C. (2006). What are the effects of education on health. Retrieved March 19, 2016, from 201603190115031903923393
Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends 2016 Numbers, facts and trends shaping your world.Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends. (2016). Numbers, facts and trends shaping your world. Retrieved March 13, 2016, from 20160313003029191115617
White House 2010 Dream Act: Good for our economy, good for our security, good for our nationThe White House. (2010, December). The Dream Act: Good for our economy, good for our security, good for our nation. Retrieved March 13, 2016, from 201603131718521136680961

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