Today, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute convenes policymakers, thought leaders and patient advocates at a health summit to bring attention to the health needs of the Latino community and put forward policy solutions to ensure equitable health outcomes for Latinos across the nation.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is proud to sponsor this important event. Here is a snapshot of Hispanic and Latino health in the U.S.:
A fast-growing, youthful group
Hispanic Americans – and Latinos in particular – are the nation’s largest and fastest growing ethnic minority group. Today, one in every six people is Hispanic making up about 18 percent of the U.S. population. That equates to about 57 million people of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish cultures or race. The U.S. Census estimates this proportion will more than double by 2060,when an estimated 129 million Hispanic Americans will be living in the United States. Latinos, on average, are younger than other demographic groups – nearly half are under age 18.
Different health risks
Hispanic Americans have the longest life expectancy in the U.S. with a lower prevalence of many chronic health conditions and, overall, are 35 percent less likely to develop heart disease and 49 percent less likely to develop cancer than non-Hispanic whites. Yet many still face heavy health burdens, and Latinos in particular are statistically more likely to be overweight, leading to higher rates of obesity, diabetes and more poorly controlled high-blood pressure.
Turning to Medicare
As the Hispanic community grows, so too does the number of Hispanic adults becoming eligible for Medicare coverage. In 2014, 8 percent of seniors identified as being Hispanic, and that number will jump to 22 percent in 2060. According to the latest data, nearly half of Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries in the U.S. are enrolled in Medicare Advantage. The program is particularly popular in Puerto Rico, where seven out of every 10 seniors choose to enroll in Medicare Advantage. The program’s focus on coordinated care and chronic disease management while keeping costs down is especially important to Hispanic seniors.
Unique challenges in accessing care
Despite their relative good health, Hispanic Americans face unique challenges in accessing care. Language barriers can interfere with getting adequate care and staying healthy, as studies have shown people with limited proficiency in English report poor health status at twice the rate of English-speakers. Access to health insurance is also problematic. Despite the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helping to cut the rate of uninsured Latinos, approximately 20 percent still lack coverage.