In recent years, both policymakers and advocates have expressed growing concerns about inherent inequities in the US health system. Inequity can impact many parts of healthcare including unequal access to care, lack of affordable health insurance, low participation in clinical trials for specific groups, biased research studies, and widely varying societal conditions that create or exacerbate health challenges. These inequities cut across large swaths of the population and include factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, income and geographical location. Not only does inequality hurt specific groups, it also diminishes the quality of healthcare for everyone. Race and ethnicity are two of the largest factors for health inequity, especially African-Americans, but also other racial and ethnic groups, the largest of which is the Latino population.
Definition of Hispanic or Latino
The US Government defines “Hispanic or Latino as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.” The US Latino population is not a single group but compromised of many different subgroups. The Census Bureau’s code list contains over 30 Hispanic or Latino subgroups. For this article, we will use the term “Latino” although within the Latino population itself there are a variety of opinions on the best terminology.
Regardless of how defined, the US Latino population faces unique healthcare challenges in addition to those faced by other disadvantaged groups. According to a recent article in Health Stream, some of the major healthcare challenges for Latinos are: language and culture barriers impacting a large segment of the population’s ability to communicate with the mainstream healthcare providers, less access to health insurance and time off because they are vastly overrepresented in low-paying service jobs, lower access to preventive care partly due to cultural issues as well as lack of health insurance, and not accessing pertinent government benefits programs or going to healthcare providers because of fears related to strict immigration policies.
While the healthcare challenges just described are national in scope, they also impact Latinos in our local community. This Point Forward (TPF) is committed to supporting better health equity in Howard County. Last year TPF received a grant from the Horizon Foundation to provide programs to educate the community on health equity issues. As part of this partnership, we hosting a webinar on April 5-Health Equity for the Latino Community in Howard County. Our speaker will be Dr. Yvette Oquendo-Berruz, Chief Medical Officer for CareFirst BCBS and a renowned family physician and community leader. Dr. Oquendo will discuss in more depth the challenges that we have highlighted in this article and also offer practical advice on how to deal with these issues. This webinar is free to the public.
We hope that you can attend this webinar and gain a better understanding of one of the critical issues facing our county and nation today.
This Point Forward is a Grantee of the Horizon Foundation