To improve the traditionally poor health outcomes in the Hispanic community, HAF educates individuals about a variety of health issues ranging from diabetes to preventive health, screening for cancer and heart disease, and maternal health. We link individuals and families with affordable and bilingual community health centers that provide services to all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, disability or age. We use educational radio programming, community activities, and electronic media to get the word out to the community and work with and through faith and community organizations to ensure quality information, resources and opportunities reaches those who need it most. We also build the capacity of local leaders, volunteers, and youth and work together to guide Hispanic individuals through the process of acquiring the support, encouragement and services they need.

Our Response

Hispanic Access Foundation was awarded a grant from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch El Cancer Nos Afecta a Todos, a national Latino cancer awareness education initiative. The project includes mass media and electronic media components, complemented by grassroots outreach activities organized by community leaders and local faith-based groups.

We reach out to health care providers, employers, insurers and communities to bridge the gaps in communication that can create barriers to effective health care-seeking behavior. Our database of service providers includes community health centers, hospitals, health screening initiatives, migrant health centers, health issue specific hotlines, national organizations, and community-based health promoters across the country, which have a specific interest in serving the Hispanic community. When we receive calls or requests from the population, our specialists discuss the issues they are facing and then refer them to the appropriate local and/or national providers who are best equipped to meet their needs.

Health disparities
Hispanics are less likely to seek and receive health-care services, which may contribute to their poorer health status and higher rates of morbidity and mortality. According to a 2004 study, Hispanic respondents were significantly less likely than non-Hispanic respondents to have health-care coverage (76.2% versus 90.6%), have one or more regular personal health-care providers (68.5% versus 84.1%), or have a regular place of care (93.4% versus 96.2%). Hispanic respondents were also significantly more likely than non-Hispanic respondents to report having needed medical care during the preceding 12 months but not receiving it. Hispanics also were significantly less likely to be screened for blood cholesterol and for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers; to receive a pneumococcal vaccination; and to receive an influenza vaccination within the preceding year.

Sources of Health Information
According to the 2007 National Latino Health Survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, about seven in ten Latinos (71%) report that they received information from a doctor in the past year. An equal proportion report obtaining health information through their social networks, including family, friends, church groups and community groups. An even larger number–83%–report that they obtained health information from some branch of the media, with television being the dominant source. Not only are most Latinos obtaining information from media sources, but a sizeable proportion–79%–say they are acting on this information.

Access to Health Care
Access to health care is much more limited among new Hispanic immigrants than the general U.S. population, for a variety of reasons. Few recent arrivals to the U.S. have health insurance coverage, making the cost of receiving care highly prohibitive. New immigrants (arriving in the United States after 1996) are banned from accessing public programs for five years. For those who are not new immigrants, there are dramatic variations in state rules with regard to who is eligible for Medicaid coverage. Other people find their access to effective health care limited by language barriers.

Health Insurance
Over one-third of Latino adults report lacking health insurance. In contrast to the common misperception that the majority of people without health insurance are unemployed, two-thirds of Latinos who report being uninsured are in fact employed (63%). Foreign-born Latinos (42%) are more likely to report being uninsured than Latinos born in the United States (25%). Similarly, Latinos who predominantly speak Spanish (47%) are more likely to report being uninsured than those who are English dominant (26%). Considerably more Latinos with incomes less than $30,000 per year (45%) report having no health insurance, compared to those with incomes of more than $50,000 per year (11%).

Prohibitive costs
As a result of the high costs of health care and lack of health insurance, about one in seven (15%) Latinos living in the US report that they or another member of their household needed medical care but did not get it during the past year, with almost seven in ten of this group saying the medical condition they needed care for but did not get, was very or somewhat serious. About one in five (22%) Latinos reports that they have had problems paying medical bills in the past year, and of this group, about half (48%) say those bills had a major impact on themselves or their family.

Other Health Barriers
Not surprisingly, half of all Spanish dominant Latinos report having had difficulty communicating with doctors or health care providers due to language barriers. Of all Latinos interviewed, 26% felt that they had difficulty receiving services because of their race or ethnic background.

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