Health Care Disparities Increase Among Latinos, AHRQ Report Says
Health care disparities for most U.S. minorities compared with whites are narrowing, but Latinos are falling further behind, according to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, AP/Long Island Newsday reports. AHRQ on Monday released reports using data mostly from 2002 and 2003 that examined disparities in 46 different health care measures, along with six categories of access to care (Freking, Long Island Newsday, 1/9).
The National Healthcare Disparities Report and the National Healthcare Quality Report are released annually (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 1/9). AHRQ finds that 59% of disparity measures were widening for Latinos, while 41% were decreasing, AP/Newsday reports.
Treatments for diabetes, mental illness and tuberculosis, as well as dental and preventative care, were among the areas in which disparities for Latinos were increasing. Among blacks, 58% of disparities were becoming smaller and 42% were increasing.
In addition, AHRQ reported that in five out of six categories of access to care, disparities increased for Latinos. Those disparities narrowed in all categories for blacks, Asians and American Indians.
Officials say they cannot identify the reasons for the gaps in health care for Latinos.
Carolyn Clancy, director of AHRQ, said that a language barrier might contribute to the disparities, adding that she did not know the extent to which undocumented immigration plays a role.
Elena Rios, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, said that two out of every five Hispanics are uninsured, including both legal and illegal immigrants.
The quality of care for U.S. residents as a whole increased by 2.8%, the same rate as in last year's report, Clancy said (AP/Long Island Newsday, 1/9).
The NHDR and the NHQR both are available online. Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the reports.