NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

LATINOS: HEALTH CARE DISPARITIES INCREASING

January 18, 2006

While health care disparities for most U.S. minorities compared with whites are narrowing, Latinos are falling further behind, according to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Using data mostly from 2002 and 2003 that examined disparities in 46 different health care measures, along with six categories of access to care, the researchers found:

  • That 59 percent of disparity measures were widening for Latinos, while 41 percent were decreasing.
  • Treatments for diabetes, mental illness and tuberculosis, as well as dental and preventative care, were among the areas in which disparities for Latinos wereincreasing.
  • Among blacks, 58 percent of disparities were becoming smaller and 42 percent were increasing.

Additionally:

  • Researchers reported that in five out of six categories of access to care, disparities increased for Latinos.
  • Those disparities narrowed in all categories for blacks, Asians and American Indians.

Officials say they cannot identify the reasons for the gaps in health care for Latinos. Carolyn Clancy, director of AHRQ, says that a language barrier might contribute to the disparities, adding that she did not know the extent to which illegal immigration plays a role.

Elena Rios, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, says that two out of every five Hispanics are uninsured, including both legal and illegal immigrants. The quality of care for U.S. residents as a whole increased by 2.8 percent, the same rate as in last year's report, Clancy said.

Source: "Health Care Disparities Increase Among Latinos, AHRQ Report Says,"California Healthline, January 10, 2006; based upon: 2005 National Healthcare Disparities Report, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, AHRQ Publication No. 06-0017, December 2005; and National Healthcare Quality Report, AHRQ Publication No. 06-0018, December 2005.

 

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