15 Oct Beyond Hispanic Heritage Month: Supporting Hispanic Health Year-Round
By Ramiro Cavazos, President & CEO
United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)
While Hispanic Heritage Month may be ending, policymakers need to be working each day to ensure Hispanic Americans have access to quality healthcare. Hispanic and Latino populations suffer from poorer health and are facing several challenges when it comes to health care and medical treatments.
Here are just a few facts:
- Hispanic Americans are more likely to experience chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer than non-Hispanic whites.
- Hispanics are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or another dementia.
- Nearly 1 in 4 Hispanics has high blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease.
In addition to having poorer health outcomes, Hispanic Americans are also more likely to be uninsured or underinsured.
Today, Hispanic populations are disproportionately enrolled in Medicaid. With the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Hispanic community is losing Medicaid coverage at an alarming rate. If pre-pandemic policies and practices do not change, approximately 4.6 million Latinos are expected to lose coverage.
This loss of coverage is unprecedented and threatens to widen underlying health disparities. A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that individuals who lose their Medicaid coverage experience greater barriers to getting care, including higher out-of-pocket costs.
In addition to cost barriers, a Pew Research Center survey of Hispanic Americans identified several other factors driving disparities in health outcomes and coverage. These include:
- Hispanics are more likely to work in occupations with health risks.
- Hispanics have less access to quality medical care where they live.
- Language and cultural differences make it more difficult for Hispanics to navigate the health care system.
To address these challenges, we all must work to advance health equity and pursue meaningful reforms that can improve health outcomes among Hispanic populations.
This will require more transparency and accountability from all healthcare stakeholders.
Promising reform opportunities for policymakers that want to support Hispanic communities include:
- Reforms that lower costs for small businesses and address rising health insurance premiums.
- Require Pharmaceutical Benefit Managers (PBMs) to be more transparent about their pricing and business practices.
- Address abuses of the 340B drug pricing program.
- Improve diversity in clinical trials to ensure Hispanic populations are well represented.
- Support the development of medical innovations that can help lower costs and address existing disparities.
Reforms such as these can help make healthcare more affordable and accessible for Hispanic Americans. Additionally, policymakers must continue to address the social determinants of health, such as poverty, housing, and food insecurity.
Hispanic Heritage Month serves as a platform for raising awareness about these challenges and opportunities. However, policymakers must ensure improving Hispanic health is a priority year-round. America’s Latino community is counting on it.