NCLR (National Council of La Raza) today released a report on Latino health, “An Inside Look at Chronic Disease and Health Care among Hispanics in the United States.” The study found that even though Latinos are accessing health care, they face barriers to maintaining their health including affordability, immigration status and language. Of those surveyed, 25 percent had visited an emergency room in the past year, a costly pattern that cannot replace regular medical visits for people with chronic conditions.

“Latinos are among the fastest-growing segments of the American population and will represent nearly one-third of U.S. workers by 2050. Our nation’s ability to meet economic demands is tied to the health of this community. Affordable health insurance and access to high-quality medical care and information is vital,” said Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President, Programs, NCLR.

NCLR produced the report, which includes recommendations and an infographic, with support from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and in partnership with John Snow, Inc. (JSI). Key findings include:

  • A high rate of chronic disease and poor health. Sixty percent of survey respondents were told by a doctor that they have a chronic disease, and comorbidities were highly prevalent.
  • Extreme rates of overweight/obesity. About 75 percent of survey respondents were overweight/obese. Three of the four major conditions experienced by respondents—hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis-related conditions—are affected by weight.
  • A disconnect with the health care system. Barriers posed by poverty, discrimination and low rates of health insurance were compounded for Latinos by immigration status, a lack of trust in the health system and language/cultural issues. About one-third of respondents reported difficulty in getting health information in Spanish, the preferred language among 74 percent of those surveyed. Focus group participants perceived that the fear of unintended immigration consequences is a deterrent for health care access in their communities.

“To take on these critical challenges, we need a major public health initiative that includes using promotores de salud, community health workers, who are trusted sources of information and who provide culturally and linguistically appropriate education,” said Manuela McDonough, Associate Director, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR.