According to the 2017 Census Bureau, Hispanic Americans have the highest uninsured rate of any ethnic group in the U.S. There are more than 58 million Hispanics in America, and more than half of us do not have private insurance. And while our life expectancy is slightly longer than Caucasians, Hispanics are also more susceptible to obesity, diabetes, low birth weight, and infant mortality.
Hispanic medical professionals are still underrepresented in the U.S. A 2012 study found that just 5.2% of doctors identified as Hispanic. Just like education, we find that Hispanics are in support positions, but not in positions of leadership. This can lead to disparities in bedside manner and treatment of medical conditions, which brings me to the second concern.
Hispanics may have a harder time accessing the healthcare they need. For decades, Hispanics were denied healthcare in the U.S. Now that health services are available, many do not know how to access what is available to them. This is especially true of the older generation, who may not speak English well enough to understand medical terminology. This is why it is important to have more Hispanic representation among doctors, surgeons, and medical professionals.
Last, life expectancy does not equal quality of life. The bottom line is that our current healthcare system does not support our citizens or our healthcare needs. This is why a growing number of Americans are going out of the country for dental work. The Affordable Care Act is still not affordable enough, and it does not always cover the services we need to regain and maintain health.
It is time to take back our health. Voice your concerns by writing to your local, state, and federal leaders. Request professional medical translators for those who do not speak English well. Ask questions and require that the doctor address your concerns. For women who are expecting children, demand respect and do not put up with neglect or abuse in the delivery room.
My final thoughts: I’ve written three separate posts, but these issues are intricately tied together. Hispanics are more likely to work in the service industry, which can bring lower pay, longer hours, and less access to educational and healthcare services that we deserve.
We have come a long way, but we can’t stop now. We have a voice, and it’s time for the younger generation to step up. We need more Hispanic teachers, business leaders, politicians, doctors, and leaders at every juncture. Through advocacy, we can shine a light on these issues and bring about positive change that will benefit not just Hispanics, but all Americans.