One in three Latinos have no health insurance. Facing serious linguistic and cultural barriers, Latinos also have much lower rates of preventative care, like cancer screenings and regular checkups, and higher rates of many chronic diseases such as diabetes. The new Obama healthcare plan would cover all Americans, including Latinos citizens, in a comprehensive health insurance plan. It would still, however, exclude about 11.9 million undocumented immigrants in this country.
“This has always been in the elephant in the room — all of our families are mixed, some documented, some undocumented,” said Elena Rios, president of the National Hispanic Medical Association, a nonprofit group that represents Hispanic doctors. “But we’re so close to having health care reform. We’d be working against ourselves to let immigration issues stall the process.” Others, like Jennifer Ng’andu, deputy director of the National Council of La Raza’s Health Policy Project, disagree, believing that any plan that doesn’t include undocumented immigrants is not worth supporting since they make up about 15% of the nation’s approximately 47 million uninsured individuals.
Many studies show that inadequate access to regular, quality health care that is culturally and linguistically sensitive has serious consequences. Regardless of what side of the debate you’re on, one thing is clear: Latinos make up 15% of the total US population, and Latino children represent 25% of preschoolers and kindergartners. Not taking care of the Latino population now, will have serious consequences in the future.