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Hispanics Could be Sicker but they are Spending Less in Health Care.

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Based on a recent study published by healthaffairs.org “Health Care Spending And Use Among Hispanic Adults With and Without Limited English Proficiency, 1999-2018”, Hispanics with Limited English proficiency spend 35% less in medical care than Hispanics who are English proficient. This finding supports that the English barrier is a critical social determinant of health despite efforts to provide translation services by many healthcare providers and institutions. Of course, we know that less spending does not imply better health; in fact, Hispanics continue to have higher rates of comorbidities in many of the most common chronic conditions.

Hispanics were disproportionally more affected by COVID-19 than Caucasians and not only in the number of hospitalizations but also in deaths. The pandemic showed what I know from experience; many Hispanic patients seek less professional care and wait until “everything else” doesn’t work. This approach makes things worse because, in many cases, they seek care when it is too late.

By building rapport with your patient and understanding what other methods they use when they are sick, providers could educate patients about the importance of promptly reaching out to the practice. We should be educating patients on how methods such as telephone encounters and Telehealth visits are available to them. It is vital to help patients understanding how translation services are used in combination with these services.

Let’s have that conversation and be proactive and intentional in understanding why your Hispanic patient visits you less frequently than others with similar conditions.


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