Hispanics are projected to comprise almost 29% of the U.S. population by 2050, yet disparity in healthcare persists for this underserved population as they continue to face barriers to care, including cultural/language barriers, lack of access to preventive care and the lack of health insurance.
Hispanics have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group within the United States. In 2015, 19.5% of the Hispanic population was not covered by health insurance, compared to 6.3% of the non-Hispanic white population. Fortunately, Hispanics have been quick to adopt new technology, and that creates an opportunity to provide access to healthcare for this ever-growing population.
Disparities in care
To get a true picture, consider these statistics related to Hispanic healthcare in the United States:
- 31% do not speak English well enough to navigate the current healthcare system
- 22.6% live under the poverty line and can’t afford basic primary care needs
- 50% more likely to die from diabetes or liver disease
- 23% higher incidence of obesity than Caucasians
- 24% higher frequency of uncontrolled blood pressure than Caucasians
These numbers are especially significant given that only 7% of U.S. physicians are Hispanic, and at least one-fourth of Hispanic adults in the United States don’t have a primary healthcare provider.
One study that examined the ethnicity disparity in healthcare utilization and expenditures between Hispanic and non-Hispanics after controlling for confounding variables revealed that Hispanics with diabetes had higher poverty rates, lower education, less physical activity and less healthcare utilization/expenditures than did non-Hispanics.
Diseases in Hispanic communities
Here’s how Hispanics are impacted by some of the most common diseases that Americans face.
Hispanic Americans face higher risks of heart disease than Caucasian Americans due to higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
- Among Mexican-American adults, 33% of men and 31% of women have cardiovascular disease.
- Cardiovascular disease causes more deaths for Hispanic Americans than all forms of cancer combined.
- Hispanic women are significantly less aware than white women that cardiovascular disease is their leading cause of death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 50% of Hispanic adults in the U.S. are expected to develop Type 2 diabetes, compared with 40% for non-Hispanic adults. Research has shown that ethnic minorities, especially Hispanics, have a disproportionate burden of illness associated with diabetes mellitus.
Obesity and other health risks
Hispanics have higher rates of obesity—a risk factor for diabetes—than non-Hispanic whites. There are also disparities among Hispanic subgroups. For instance, while the rate of low birth weight infants is lower for the total Hispanic population in comparison to non-Hispanic whites, Puerto Ricans have a low birth weight rate that is twice that of non-Hispanic whites. Also, Puerto Ricans suffer disproportionately from asthma, HIV/AIDS and infant mortality, while Mexican-Americans suffer disproportionately from diabetes.
Technology solutions for underinsured and uninsured Hispanics
Proven technology is being used to leverage decades of health industry knowledge and speed access to care among Hispanic communities. These solutions and digital access align with Hispanic use of new technology tools. Statistics show that 84% of all Hispanics are online and Hispanic internet smartphone use is 10.5 hours per week—25% more than the national average.
Now a growing number of Hispanic consumers can access several cash-based primary care and pharmacy solutions, such as:
- A medication voucher program that gives consumers the ability to prepurchase generic medications at affordable price points. They can be purchased for personal use or gifted to a friend or family member either domestically in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, or internationally.
- A free prescription savings card model allows cash-pay consumers to save a significant percent on brand name and generic medications across a wide network of pharmacies.
- An end-to-end clinical solution for patients with diabetes, hypertension, asthma and obesity that includes vouchers for medications, peripherals, testing supplies, tablet, apps and access to life coach consults.
- A bilingual telemedicine platform, which helps underserved populations access the healthcare they need with more ease.
Solutions such as these are drastically simplifying access and delivery of quality health and wellness products, and enabling individuals to access care, learn about their health, determine their wellness needs, access low cost medications, manage their chronic conditions and engage in behavior modification solutions to help them lead healthier and more productive lives.
These solutions also give Hispanics access to care anywhere and at an affordable price, whether it’s in the U.S., Puerto Rico or Mexico, in either English or Spanish, and without the need for any type of insurance or third-party payment.
This level of innovation holds great promise for closing gaps in care for under- and uninsured Hispanics in the United States by providing greater access to quality care and medications that they can afford.
Mario Anglada is the CEO of Hoy Health, a company that provides programs to help patients gain access to medications, chronic care management, health education, and telehealth services from a bilingual team of physicians, nurses and psychologists. Hoy Health was named one of FierceHealthcare’s Fierce 15 of 2019, an award honoring companies across the U.S. that are trying to change the world by changing the healthcare industry.