Health Disparity


Health Disparity among Latino


Healthcare is one of the basic needs that a normal human being must be granted. Not only should healthcare be granted but it should be of high quality that is beneficial to all who need it. In the recent past the Latinos have experienced disparities with health care being affected. However, there are different temperaments of these disparities. This is because of the many differences that they have being foreigners these include external and internal factors such as the language barrier, limited health insurance they also seem to lack trust from the rest. However, this is not the case as the quality of healthcare differs based on very many factors some of which include external factors that goes under xenophobia such as race, geography, disability, ethnicity, sex or gender, income, immigrant status, and sexual orientation. This difference in the quality of healthcare brings in the concept of healthcare disparity among a population. In the case of Latino, these disparities are greatly influence by internal factors such as language and cultural barriers, poor healthcare literacy, limited health workers, insufficient health insurance, and distrust health providers among others.

Definably, healthcare disparity can be described as the moral standing or disability as well as elevated burden of harm which are normally felt by the majority social group. This group usually has a common location, gender, ethnicity or status. Healthcare disparity is an important factor when it comes to the discussion on the health status of a nation; this is because the variations in healthcare provided waters down the overall quality of health and also has drastic effects on the given population. The disparities that are experienced in the health sector are majorly seen by the African American, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans as compared to the white population of the country.

These subgroups of the populations face health disparity majorly because of social factors such as their lower literacy levels, their low economic status, poor housing that is unsafe for all human habitation, and their habitation areas are near environmental hazards. With all these contributing factors the effects of healthcare disparity are visible due to the low numbers of the population in this subgroup being able to acquire health insurance and also the high financial burden that this population experiences when disaster strikes them.

Healthcare disparity is an area where not only the government should get involved in, but also non-governmental organizations that have the will and the resources should take part in so that this situation can be rectified for it has a high impact on the finances of the individuals affected and consequently on the economy of the country. This paper, therefore, gives insight on healthcare disparity among the Latino community who have for years been on the receiving end of this situation. This paper goes further to discuss the steps that have been taken to counter the healthcare disparity and what more needs to be done to improve the state of health in the country.

The significance of the study

The study on healthcare disparity that is centered on the Latino community is important as it is aimed at looking into the causes of healthcare disparity among the Latino community in America. Further, this study is analyses the solutions that have so far been given t curb this problem and get to understand their merits and demerits about the marginalized communities that are the Latinos.

Apart from the analysis of the problem and the policies put in place to curb them, this paper goes ahead to include the solutions that can be implemented by the government to eradicate the issue of healthcare disparity. The solutions presented in this paper are from the analysis of the research carried out among the community and the suggestions that they give during data collection. Solutions will be presented in the recommendations section of this paper.

Latin or Hispanic Americans are American citizens who are descendants of Spain and Latin America. The United States of America has the largest number of Latin Americans that are outside their places of origin. The ancestry of the Latin Americans can be traced back to 1565 after the founding of St. Augustine by the Spanish people. The Latino community came into existence in America since Spain had colonized most of what is known as America today including states such as Florida, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas. Apart from the native Latino population in the country, there are immigrants who cross the border to New York and New-Jersey from the Latin American States. Despite having a large population and also the benefit of being native in America the population has not benefitted from good healthcare due to various factors that are going to be discussed in the following sections of this literature review.

According to a survey that was conducted it shows that diabetes is the main disease among the Latinos with cancer being ranked as the second biggest concern. Diabetes being a hereditary disease has led to many children born being diabetic and hence this has continued for ages. Health care is a great concern among across with the world and this has increased every day. This is because of the disparities increase and hence the increase of Latinos.

For various centuries, the Latino group has undergone a number of disparities in terms of healthcare. With the adverse effects that are posed by this social menace, it is very vital to address it in a strategic manner. One of the end results of this issue is that it increases the medical expenses particularly in cases where one requires a specialized treatment. Despite the fact that these disparities exist, it should be noted that they differ in various Latino groups. Vásquez and Mejjia state that the each and every Latino group has its own distinctive health profile and that leads to inequalities in the emergence and occurrence of lasting health disorders. (2) Nonetheless, the common factors that contribute to the endless health disparities among the Latino group can be categorized as follows:

Language/cultural barriers

Language and culture has been cited as the major health disparity factor among the Latino Community. This has been fostered by the fact that the barriers of language can lead to misinterpretation of their health care needs. One of the cases on the matter of cultural barriers is that a population of this society still belive in ancient healers and not modern medication. Nonetheless, Language is a crucial factor in the health sector as on is often required to express his/her condition to the physician in the most appropriate manner. Also, the patient must also be in a position to get directives and prescriptions from the physician. This can only be achieved in an environment where there is no language barrier. Case in point, most of the Latino populations especially those that are immigrants to the country know of only one language that is Spanish, while most of the healthcare providers are only fluent in English and cannot communicate with the Latino patients. In such a case then the ability of the caregiver to make appropriate decisions on the medication that is going to be administered to a particular patient based on what they have described would be difficult and even trying to explain the procedure of treatment to the patient would be more daunting.

Focusing on cultural practices, a good number of the Latino are still being guided by the belief in traditional healing rather than seeking specialized modern treatment. For instance, most of the Latino Americas still visit their traditional “doctor” who is commonly referred to as curandero. The curandero prescribes treatment to patients using conventional means of herbs and rituals that are believed to cure the diseases that are one is suffering from. Apart from the curandero offering traditional means of healing, there are some who totally do not believe in modern medicine and also do not believe in the curandero since they consider them evil and these individuals believe in the healing power of prayer. This group of people prays and waits for healing from God. Despite lack of scientific evidence that the cultural healing practices are poor some of the individuals who seek those healing practices do not get the expected results, and modern medicine is a better way to go around their illnesses.

Limited Health Insurance

Additionally, the aspect of inadequate health insurance is an essential factor to consider when discussing healthcare disparities. For instance, Miguel argues that a larger percent of Latino children have limited access to healthcare insurance. The study illustrated that more that 26% of the uninsured kids came from Latino families while only less that 10% came from the White families. This is a clear indication that Latino children were highly disadvantaged when it came to healthcare interventions compared to other children. In relation to Elias and Nilsson’s perception, it is evident that Latinos expenditure on healthcare is relatively low compared to the white families. The lack of inadequate health insurance among the Latino population is attributed to two main reasons that are low income and lack of knowledge on the advantages of taking insurance covers.

The low income does not allow for the population to take insurance covers that will help them pay their hospital bills. The low income in this population, especially among the immigrant Latinos, is because most of them are involved in manual labor as their sole source of income and do not have the capability of getting employment that has benefits since they lack in the required academic skills. The population is also not well informed about the advantages of the insurance covers and how the covers work. Latino’s expenditure on health is significantly low irrespective to high income and access to education.

Low Healthcare Literacy

Healthcare literacy can be referred to as the way patients tend to perceive illness and treatment. Health literacy is a vital facet in structuring an effective health care. As such, healthcare education can be used to elliminate healthcare disparities. Healthcare literacy particularly applies in the context of preventive care that should be general knowledge to everyone. This kind of information is readily available in all platforms such as television, newspapers and even social media but due to the low literacy levels of this population demographics, then this kind of information is not readily available to them. Such type of information may include cancer detection, which is the second leading cause of death among the Latinos, which has symptoms that are exhibited in the early stages of its development such as lumps, the presence of blood in urine among others. Other leading causes of death are a stroke, liver disease, hypertension and diabetes all of which can be classified as lifestyle diseases and which have preventive measures that lead to lifestyle changes.

Lack of Trust from Healthcare Providers

According to Cohen (2014), existence of distrust among the Latino patients and doctors has facilitated health disparity. The health practitioners highly perceive that the patients will not follow their prescriptions and most likely during pain treatment. Latinos are commonly painted with an image of abusing drugs which makes even those who does abuse them become victim of misjudgment. Due to the prevailing distrust, the Latino patients experience much pain and suffering which brings about other health problems related to pain. The healthcare providers are shy in prescribing medication that is opioid and which has high addiction and dependence if misused or abused. Some of these opioid drugs include codeine, hydrocodone, and morphine, oxycodone. This lack of leads to the individuals suffering and thus the quality of healthcare that is administered can be considered as poor.

Few Healthcare Workers

The Latino community has access to a fewer number of healthcare professionals, which can be linked to the health workers’ reluctance to practice in underserved areas, such as rural, remote or poor areas. Most of the Latino settlements are located in remote areas that are far away from the major towns and urban centers which make them not to be easily located by the healthcare providers such as doctors and pharmacists. The location of their settlements also is not encouraging to the doctors who have been posted to such areas they are always reluctant in settling in those areas that they deem remote. Apart from the location of their settlements, there may be a cultural difference between the medical practitioner and the local population in terms of language and even the cultural practices that contribute to them not settling in those areas. Certainly, it is evident that the absence of health practitioners in the rural parts of Latino society imposes a negative influence on the availability of health services.

Works Cited

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McFayden, Elgie. “Key Factors Influencing Health Disparities Among African Americans”. SSRN Electronic Journal, 2009. Elsevier BV, doi:10.2139/ssrn.1437507. Accessed 27 Mar 2019.

Miguel, Sandra L. San et al. “Abstract A31: National Outreach Network Community Health Educators: An Effective Framework To Reduce Cancer Health Disparities Among Latinos”. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, vol 25, no. 3 Supplement, 2016, pp. A31-A31. American Association For Cancer Research (AACR), doi:10.1158/1538-7755.disp15-a31. Accessed 27 Mar 2019.

Mobley, Lee R. et al. “What Happened To Disparities In CRC Screening Among FFS Medicare Enrollees Following Medicare Modernization?”. Journal Of Racial And Ethnic Health Disparities, vol 6, no. 2, 2018, pp. 273-291. Springer Nature, doi:10.1007/s40615-018-0522-x.

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Philbin, Morgan M. et al. “State-Level Immigration And Immigrant-Focused Policies As Drivers Of Latino Health Disparities In The United States”. Social Science & Medicine, vol 199, 2018, pp. 29-38. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.04.007. Accessed 27 Mar 2019.

Quiñones, Ana R. et al. “Interventions That Reach Into Communities—Promising Directions For Reducing Racial And Ethnic Disparities In Healthcare”. Journal Of Racial And Ethnic Health Disparities, vol 2, no. 3, 2014, pp. 336-340. Springer Nature, doi:10.1007/s40615-014-0078-3.

Vásquez, Elias, and Nilson Enrique Mejia. “Sharing The Burden: Health Disparities Among Latinos”. Hispanic Health Care International, vol 6, no. 1, 2008, pp. 2-4. Springer Publishing Company, doi:10.1891/1540-4153.6.1.2. Accessed 27 Mar 2019.

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