Category Archives: Hispanic Health

Obama administration will target hard-to-reach uninsured in next enrollment period


ACA health reform logoBy Mary Agnes Carey

The health law’s upcoming enrollment period may be its toughest yet, with federal officials promising a vigorous outreach campaign to enroll millions of eligible yet hard-to-reach Americans who have yet to sign up for health insurance.

“Those who are still uninsured are going to be a bigger challenge,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Tuesday in remarks to the Howard University College of Medicine.

This year’s enrollment campaign will be harder in part because officials will be pursuing those who have declined to sign up for health insurance during the two previous enrollment seasons.  Continue reading


Diabetes in the US population


Glucometer showing a blood sugar of 105From the National Institutes of Health 

Diabetes is a disorder in how the body uses glucose, a sugar that serves as the body’s fuel. In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that triggers cells throughout the body to take up glucose from blood.

In type 2 diabetes—the most common type—the body doesn’t make or use insulin well. Both types can lead to heart, kidney, nerve, and eye diseases over time.

Hispanic Americans had the highest prevalence of diabetes at 19-23%, with up to 49% of that undiagnosed. About 21-22% of non-Hispanic black adults had diabetes, with up to 37% undiagnosed.

Non-Hispanic whites had the lowest prevalence of diabetes at 10-11%.

To assess how common diabetes is, researchers at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) analyzed data collected in CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is a periodic survey of a representative sample of the U.S. population.

Recent surveys included blood tests and other measurements. The researchers, led by Drs. Andy Menke and Catherine Cowie, examined data gathered from almost 2,800 people during the 2011-2012 survey cycle. The study was published on September 8, 2015, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Continue reading


Longevity and health in later life vary greatly by community in L.A.

3-D Perspective image of the Los Angeles Basin from the Landsat satellite using NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) for topography information. The vertical scale is exaggerated one and half times.

3-D Perspective image of the Los Angeles Basin from the Landsat satellite using NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) for topography information. The vertical scale is exaggerated one and half times.

By Anna Gorman

report on aging in Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest county and one of its most diverse, shows wide disparities in life expectancy among different ethnic groups and neighborhoods.

Overall, the life expectancy for Los Angeles County residents was about 82 years in 2011, up from nearly 76 in 1991, according to the report by University of Southern California’s Roybal Institute on Aging. Much of that can be attributed to drops in coronary heart disease, strokes and lung cancer, the report noted.

But African Americans can expect to live to an average of about 76 years whereas the average for Asians and Pacific Islanders approaches 86 years, the report said.

And residents who have reached the age of 50 in the more affluent western part of the county are expected to live about five years longer than those in largely poor South Los Angeles.

Similarly, researchers found stark differences among ethnic groups when it comes to chronic disease. Latinos in L.A. County aged 50 or older have nearly double the rate of diabetes as whites, and older African Americans have a much higher rate of hypertension than other ethnic groups. Continue reading


More than half of Asian Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed


New statistics also show rising prevalence of diabetes among all groups

From the National Institutes of Health

More than half of Asian Americans and nearly half of Hispanic Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed, according to researchers from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their results were published Sept. 8 in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association

Additionally, prevalence of diabetes for all American adults went up, from nearly 10 percent to over 12 percent between 1988 and 2012.


The graph shows the percentage of the U.S. adult population – both as a whole and by ethnic/racial subgroup – with diabetes (blue bars) and the percentage who have diabetes that has not been diagnosed (green bars), according to findings from researchers supported by the NIH and the CDC and published in the Sept. 8 issue of JAMA.

Diabetes prevalence – how common the condition is – also went up in every age, sex, level of education, income and racial/ethnic subgroup. Continue reading


Bring doctors to patients who need them most

Jennifer Vargas, a second year resident at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center, treats patient Maria Sanchez, 54, at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center on April 21, 2015.    Sanchez says she feels comfortable with Vargas because she speaks Spanish (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

Jennifer Vargas, a second year resident at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center, treats patient Maria Sanchez, 54, at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center on April 21, 2015. Sanchez says she feels comfortable with Vargas because she speaks Spanish (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

By Andrew L. Wang and Heidi de Marco

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. — Jennifer Vargas’ path toward becoming a doctor took her from UCLA to Guadalajara before it ultimately led back home, to California’s vast Inland Empire east of Los Angeles.

“Today, our country is largely training the sons and daughters of wealthy people to be physicians… You wonder why we have a problem with people not serving in underserved communities; it’s because they don’t know what an underserved community looks like.”

When the Chino Hills, Calif. native graduated from medical school in Mexico, her first choice for residency training was Riverside County’s public medical center, which serves among the fastest growing and most medically deprived parts of California.

It was just what she wanted:  To serve a vulnerable patient population facing high barriers to care, particularly immigrant patients from Mexico who would benefit from a Spanish-speaking physician.

“It offered the best fit for me,” said Vargas, 32, a second-year resident in family medicine at Riverside County Regional Medical Center. Continue reading


Why I love family-run restaurants: Insights from a food inspector


cropped-eyob-in-idBy Eyob Mazengia, PhD, RS, Food Protection Program
Public Health – Seattle & King County

When I started as a food inspector, I was assigned to the International District. And I liked it. It was almost like walking into a new culture, a new era.

What fascinated me was that as a public health worker, I had permission to walk into people’s personal spaces. I liked the smells, the sounds of their languages, their wall hangings and the way things looked.

It was a privilege, really, to be allowed into their personal spaces. Going on food inspections in the I.D., it was like walking into 3-4 different countries every day, without traveling outside the neighborhood.

Over the years, I established good relationships with the restaurant establishments. They were no longer just restaurant operators—they were mothers, fathers, grown kids. They’re not just businesses—there’s a family behind every door, people who had often gone through difficult times to be here.

And as I got to know them, I could recognize the sacrifices they made to give their children better opportunities in the U.S., and what they left behind. Even those born and raised here, you could recognize the sacrifices they were making. Continue reading


International Community Health Service recognized as ‘National Quality Leader’


International Community Health ServicesInternational Community Health Services (ICHS)  been cited by the federal government as a “National Quality Leader” for exceeding national clinical benchmarks for chronic disease management, preventive care, and perinatal/prenatal services.

The Seattle-based health center also was recognized for achieving some of the best overall clinical outcomes nationally for health centers and for showing significant improvement in clinical quality measures between 2012 and 2013.

ICHS is a non-profit community health center that specializes in providing affordable health care services to Seattle and King County’s Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and other underserved communities.

It operates medical and dental centers in Seattle’s International District and Holly Park neighborhoods, as well as in the cities of Bellevue and Shoreline; a school-based health center at the Seattle World School, and a primary care clinic at ACRS, a social and mental health services agency in Seattle.

In recognition of its accomplishment and to fund further quality improvement, ICHS will receive $84,169 in Affordable Care Act funding by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Continue reading


How Obamacare went south in Mississippi



In the country’s unhealthiest state, the failure of Obamacare is a group effort.

By Sarah Varney
KHN / October 29, 2014

The lunch rush at Tom’s on Main in Yazoo City, Mississippi, had come to a close, and the waitresses, having cleared away plates of shrimp and cheese grits, seasoned turnip greens and pitchers of sweet tea, were retreating to the counter to cash out and count their tips.

It didn’t take long: The $6.95 lunchtime specials didn’t land them much, and the job certainly didn’t come with benefits like health insurance. For waitress Wylene Gary, 54, being uninsured was unnerving, but she didn’t try to buy coverage on her own until the Affordable Care Act forced her to. She didn’t want to be a lawbreaker.

Months earlier, she had gone online to the federal government’s new website, signed up and paid her first monthly premium of $129. But when her new insurance card arrived in the mail, she was flabbergasted.

“It said, $6,000 deductible and 40 percent co-pay,” Gary told me at the check-out counter, her timid drawl giving way to strident dismay. Confused, she called to speak to a representative for the insurer Magnolia Health. “’You tellin’ me if I get a hospital bill for $100,000, I gotta pay $40,000?’ And she said, ‘Yes, ma’am.’”

Never mind that the Magnolia worker was wrong — her out-of-pocket costs were legally capped at $6,350. Gary figured with a hospital bill that high, she would have to file for bankruptcy anyway. So really, she thought, what was the point?

“This ain’t worth a tooth,” she said.

She canceled her coverage.

The first year of the Affordable Care Act in Mississippi was, by almost every measure, an unmitigated disaster. In a state stricken by diabetes, heart disease, obesity and the highest infant mortality rate in the nation, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law has barely registered, leaving the country’s poorest and perhaps most segregated state trapped in a severe and intractable health care crisis. Continue reading


Vaccination rates lower among US adults born abroad


Vaccine SquareBy Milly Dawson
Health Behavior News Service

Nationality at birth appears to play a significant role in whether or not adults in the United States are routinely vaccinated for preventable diseases, a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds, reflecting a risky medical lapse for more than one in ten people nationwide.

Foreign-born adult U.S. residents, who make up about 13 percent of the population, receive vaccinations at significantly lower rates than U.S.-born adults.

Foreign-born adult U.S. residents make up about 13 percent of the population.

This gap poses special risks for certain groups of people who are vulnerable to many serious and sometimes deadly diseases that vaccines can prevent.

The study’s lead author, Peng-Jun Lu, MD, PhD, a researcher at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noted the rise in the foreign-born population in the United States, which stood at only five percent in 1970.

“As their numbers continue to rise, it will become increasingly important to consider this group in our efforts to increase vaccination and eliminate coverage disparities,” he said. Continue reading


One in four Latinos remain uninsured


By Teresa Wiltz

In the “sala de espera,” or waiting room, at La Clinica del Pueblo, a community health center in Washington, D.C., signs in Spanish encourage patients to “Empower yourself!” and sign up for insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Adults slump in chairs, scribbling on application forms, texting friends, waiting. In a tiny office a few feet away, William Joachin, the center’s patient access manager, faces down the frustrations of trying to navigate the federal health care program for the thousands of mostly Central American immigrants who flood the clinic each year. He’s not alone.

A year after open enrollment for the ACA began, one in four Latinos living in the U.S. does not have health insurance, according to new census data, more than any other ethnic population in the country—and most states have few backups in place to help those in the coverage gap.

Latino health insurance graphic


Latino immigrants are the hardest hit: Foreign-born Hispanics are more than twice as likely to be uninsured than are U.S.-born Hispanics, according to census data compiled by the Pew Research Center. (Pew also funds Stateline.) Continue reading


Federal judge blocks Texas restriction on abortion clinics


200px-Flag-map_of_TexasBy Carrie Feibel, KUHF
AUGUST 30TH, 2014, 10:18 AM

This story is part of a partnership that includes Houston Public MediaNPR and Kaiser Health News.

In a highly anticipated ruling, a federal judge in Austin struck down part of a Texas law that would have required all abortion clinics in the state to meet the same standards as outpatient surgical centers.

The regulation, which was set to go into effect Monday, would have shuttered about a dozen abortion clinics, leaving only eight places in Texas to get a legal abortion — all in major cities.

. . . state’s regulation was unconstitutional and would have placed an undue burden on women, particularly on poor and rural women.”

The regulation, which was set to go into effect Monday, would have shuttered about a dozen abortion clinics, leaving only eight places in Texas to get a legal abortion — all in major cities.

Judge Lee Yeakel ruled late Friday afternoon that the state’s regulation was unconstitutional and would have placed an undue burden on women, particularly on poor and rural women living in west Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. Continue reading


Say what? Many patients struggle to learn the foreign language of health insurance

health literacy 1 300

Jessie Yuan, physician at the Eisner Pediatric & Family Health Center in Los Angeles, treats diabetic patient Oscar Gonzales. Gonzalez was unaware he had been switched to Medi-Cal until Yuan informed him about the change (Photo by Anna Gorman/KHN).

This KHN story also ran in .

As soon as Deb Emerson, a former high school teacher from Oroville, Calif., bought a health plan in January through the state’s insurance exchange, she felt overwhelmed.

She couldn’t figure out what was covered and what wasn’t.

Why weren’t her anti-depressant medications included?

Why did she have to pay $60 to see a doctor?

The insurance jargon – deductible, co-pay, premium, co-insurance – was like a foreign language. What did it mean?

“I have an education and I am not understanding this,” said Emerson, 50. “ I wonder about people who don’t have an education — how baffling this must be for them.” Continue reading


How states are tackling ‘health disparities’


Question Q&ABy Michael Ollove
Stateline Staff Writer

African-Americans are more likely to suffer heart disease and diabetes than whites. The cancer death rate for men is a good deal higher than it is for women.

American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to smoke tobacco than Hispanics, blacks or whites.

And Native Hawaiian adults are less likely to exercise than other ethnic groups.

These differences are called “health disparities,” and in the last two decades, the federal government and the states have focused on eliminating them. Continue reading


Why hospitals are failing civilians who get PTSD


Gunby Lois Beckett
ProPublica, March 4, 2014

More than 20 percent of civilians with traumatic injuries may develop PTSD. Trauma surgeons explain why many hospitals aren’t doing anything about it.

Undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder is having a major impact on injured civilians, particularly those with violent injuries, as Propublica detailed last month.

One national study of patients with traumatic injuries found that more than 20 percent of them developed PTSD.

But many hospitals still have no systematic approach to identifying patients with PTSD or helping them get treatment.

We surveyed 21 top-level trauma centers in cities with high rates of violence. The results show that trauma surgeons across the country see PTSD as a serious problem.  Continue reading