Heritage may be universal within the Hispanic community, but it seems health isn’t.
According to two recently published twin studies -- one focusing on men and the other on women’s health -- there are “significant differences” in the physical and behavioral health of individuals within three major Latino subgroups in the United States: Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Rican-Americans.
Florida State University (FSU) researchers analyzed data from the National Latino and Asian-American Study and found that both Puerto Rican-American men and women reported the highest rates of smoking and overall substance abuse -- including marijuana, cocaine, and prescription drugs -- out of the three subgroups. Puerto Ricans also showed the highest rates of major depression at 13.1 percent for women and 9.7 percent for men.
When assessing chronic conditions within the subgroups, Mexican-American women showed the highest rate of diabetes while Puerto Rican-American women reported the highest percentage of asthma. Cuban-American women, on the other hand, were more likely to report conditions such as hypertension and heart disease.
Chronic conditions afflicting specific subgroups, however, proved to be less varied in men. Puerto Rican-American men had high rates in eight of the 15 physical ailments analyzed in the study, including cardiovascular disease and hypertension (18.1%). Cuban-American men shared a similar rate of hypertension (16.5%) compared to that of Mexican-American men (11.2%).
Nevertheless, almost 45 percent of Cuban-American men said they considered their health to be ‘Excellent,’ followed by 37.5 percent of Puerto Rican-American men and 32 percent of Mexican-American men.
A Census Bureau report released this month also found that in 2010 Hispanics were more likely to report ‘Excellent’ health (33.8%) compared to Non-Hispanic, Blacks (29.8%) and Non-Hispanic, Whites (32.7%).
This positive perception of their overall health, and the fact that 15.8 million Hispanics were uninsured in the United States in 2011, may explain why the Bureau also reported Hispanics as “the least likely racial and ethnic group to use a medical provider.”
“We don’t go to the doctor until we’re very, very sick,” Dr. Jane Delgado, President and CEO of the National Health Alliance for Hispanics, told NBC Latino. “By then, our health care clinician is limited in what they can do because the condition is too difficult to pinpoint.”
Approximately 42 percent of Hispanics said they had “zero visits” to a medical provider in 2010, almost double the percent of Whites and Black that reported no visits that year. Also, Hispanics were the least likely ethnic group to use prescription medicine, 73 .2 percent saying they “never” took prescribed medication in 2010.
FSU researchers also indicated a possible correlation between individuals’ education, occupation, and geography and the differences in health conditions within the subgroups.
“Within Latino groups, cross-subcultural differences may contribute to the different patterns in both physical and mental health,” said Amy Ai, the FSU Associate Dean and Professor who led the Latino-american subgroup studies, in a press release. “It is critical to further examine factors associated with the gender- and ethnicity-specific health issues and with [Latinos’] underuse of health services in order to inform culturally appropriate intervention for Latino-Americans.”
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Uninsured -- countrywide
Nearly 33 percent of Hispanics under the age of 65 <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus11.pdf#fig40" target="_hplink">had no health coverage</a> in 2010. Hispanics had the highest numbers of uninsured compared to blacks (22 percent), whites (14 percent) and others (19 percent) who lacked health insurance.
States With Highest Numbers Of Uninsured Latinos
<strong>Georgia:</strong> 45 percent of non elderly Hispanics are uninsured in the state of Georgia. Only 22 percent of the state's total population under age 65 is in the same situation. <strong>North Carolina:</strong> 49 percent of non elderly Hispanics are uninsured in the state of North Carolina. About 20 percent of North Carolina's population under age 65 is uninsured. <strong>Kentucky: </strong>51 percent of non elderly Hispanics are uninsured in the state of Kentucky. The same is true for only 18 percent of the rest of the state's residents under age 65. <strong>South Carolina:</strong> 57 percent of non elderly Hispanics are uninsured in the state of South Carolina. Just 22 percent of the total non elderly population in South Carolina is uninsured. <a href="http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=143&cat=3" target="_hplink">Source</a>
States With Lowest Numbers Of Uninsured Latinos
<strong> Massachusetts:</strong> 9 percent of non elderly Hispanics are uninsured in the state of Massachusetts. 6 percent of the total non elderly population in Massachusetts is uninsured. <strong>Michigan:</strong> 16 percent of non elderly Hispanics are uninsured in the state of Michigan. About 15 percent of the total non elderly population in Michigan is also uninsured. <strong>Wisconsin:</strong> 20 percent of Latinos under age 65 are uninsured in the state of Wisconsin. About 11 percent of the total non elderly population in Wisconsin is uninsured. <strong>Pennsylvania:</strong> 22 percent of non elderly Hispanics are uninsured in Pennsylvania. Only 13 percent of the state's total non elderly population faces the same problem. <a href="http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=143&cat=3" target="_hplink">Source</a>
The U.S. Hispanic population surged 43%, rising to 50.5 million in 2010 from 35.3 million in 2000. Latinos constitute 16% of the nation's total population. The Pew Hispanic Center projects that nearly <a href="http://www.pewhispanic.org/2008/02/11/us-population-projections-2005-2050/" target="_hplink">one in five Americans (19%) will be foreign born</a> in 2050. And Latinos will represent 29 percent of the nation's population in 2050, accounting for almost one third of the entire country. Immigration will be the main factor for population growth. Of the 117 million people expected to join the U.S. population between 2005 to 2050, <a href="http://www.pewhispanic.org/2008/02/11/us-population-projections-2005-2050/" target="_hplink">67 million will be immigrants.</a> Many of these immigrants <a href="http://prospect.org/article/reforms-mixed-impact-immigrants-0" target="_hplink">are not eligible</a> for government-sponsored or subsidized health care under The Affordable Care Act.
Immigrants And Medicaid
Medicaid provides essential coverage to vulnerable populations who might otherwise be uninsured. Latinos are about <a href="http://www.nclr.org/images/uploads/publications/FastFacts_LatnosandHealthCare2012.pdf" target="_hplink">two times more likely</a> than Whites to have coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). But immigrants are<a href="http://www.nclr.org/images/uploads/publications/Fact_Sheet_Hispanics_and_Medicaid_State_by_State07-19-2011.pdf" target="_hplink"> less likely to have access to employer-sponsored </a>health insurance. Legal immigrants can enroll in Medicaid, CHIP only after they have been in the country for five years, while undocumented immigrants are barred from government insurance programs altogether, <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/06/07/falling-through-the-cracks.html" target="_hplink">according to The Daily Beast. </a>
Who Are Most Likely To Be Uninsured?
Uninsured adults are more common than children without health insurance, but Latino kids are <a href="http://www.nclr.org/images/uploads/publications/FastFacts_LatinosandHealthCare2012.pdf" target="_hplink">more than two times more likely than White children </a>to be uninsured. <a href="http://www.nclr.org/images/uploads/publications/FastFacts_LatinosandHealthCare2012.pdf" target="_hplink">Nearly 50 percent of Latino children</a> are enrolled in Medicaid (CHIP ). However, Latino children represent the largest portion of (39.1 percent) American children who are eligible for but not enrolled in these programs.
Leading Causes Of Death In The Latino Community In The U.S. :
1. Heart disease 2. Cancer 3. Unintentional injuries 4. Stroke 5. Diabetes 6. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis 7. Chronic lower respiratory disease 8. Homicide 9. Certain conditions originating in the perinatal period, the months just before and after birth. 10. Influenza and pneumonia <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/OMHD/POPULATIONS/HL/hl.htm" target="_hplink">Source
Diabetes And Health Care Coverage
The Affordable Care Act allows for<a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/type-1-diabetes/how-health-care-reform-will-affect-people-with-type-1-diabetes.aspx" target="_hplink"> easier and more affordable treatment</a> for chronic diseases. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children under 19 due to a pre-existing condition and people who can not find affordable private coverage but earn too much for the now expanded Medicaid program or government insurance subsidies will be eligible for government-run high risk insurance pools. As diabetes disproportionately affects Hispanics in the United States, the ability to secure affordable coverage with a pre-existing condition is important. <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/factsheets/hispanic.htm" target="_hplink">According to a CDC investigation</a> Hispanics have double the risk of developing diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites and they tend to develop diabetes at a younger age. Latino children and youth under 20 years of age diagnosed with diabetes is growing at an alarming rate -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/diabetes-latinos-growing-rates-_n_1590697.html" target="_hplink">the fastest of any ethnic group in the U.S.</a>
In 2008, Hispanics made up nearly <a href="http://www.nclr.org/images/uploads/publications/FastFacts_LatinosandHealthCare2012.pdf" target="_hplink">16 percent of U.S. residents</a> but <a href="http://www.nclr.org/images/uploads/publications/FastFacts_LatinosandHealthCare2012.pdf" target="_hplink">but accounted for less than 10 percent</a> of the nation's total health care costs.
Health Care -- Political Implications
U.S. Hispanics prioritize immigration, healthcare, and unemployment to equal degrees,<a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/155327/Hispanic-Voters-Put-Issues-Immigration.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=All Gallup Headlines - Economy - Election 2012 - Government - Political Parties - Unemployment" target="_hplink"> according to a June Gallup Poll </a>. However, a slight majority of Hispanic registered voters (21 percent) identified healthcare as the most important issue when it comes to casting their vote.