The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is urging Americans to acknowledge health disparities affecting millions within our racially and ethnically diverse population and recognize the benefits that health care reform will bring to these communities.
Health is a common denominator among every community, and it is one that brings our nation together. As we close the month of April, let it serve as a reminder to all of us that without good health, our overall wellbeing would be extremely affected. NHCOA encourages you to take precaution and start healthy habits to keep yourself from developing chronic diseases.
“Our health is one of the most precious gifts we have. With good health on our side, we have an easier time accomplishing other important life activities. Each day we must work and be intentional about nurturing and loving our mind, body, and spirit to care for one of our greatest assets. Caring for our health occurs in health care settings but even more so in places where we live, work, learn and play, all of which are important to one’s ability to be healthy,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of NHCOA.
In order to help close the gap on health disparities many diverse communities experience on a daily basis, NHCOA welcomes the recent enhanced Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Minority Health. According to HHS, the CLAS Standards help organizations and health care professionals improve the quality of care and aim to reduce health disparities in diverse communities. The updated CLAS Standards provide guidelines for health care organizations that are culturally and linguistically appropriate for the patients they serve. For example, Spanish language access is crucial for the majority of immigrant Hispanics (61%) who are Spanish-speaking dominant. Additionally, linguistic barriers make economic security during old age difficult for many Hispanics. The new description of the standards’ Communication and Language Assistance provides a rule that for adequate service, health care organizations and providers should communicate with their patients that the option of language assistance is available.
NHCOA is hopeful that the enhanced CLAS Standards will help close the health inequities that have been occurring for decades in diverse communities, one of them being obtaining and affording health care. In 2010, one out of three (33.3%) Hispanics between the ages of 18 and 64 lacked a usual source of medical care, and a similar number, 30% lacked health insurance. In addition to the disparities impacting all ages in the Hispanic demographic, Hispanic older adults face particular health challenges of their own. These challenges include access to quality preventive care, like vaccinations, screening for colon cancer and visits to the dentist.
However, thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance expansions set to take place in January 2014, Hispanics, who are particularly affected by lack of health care coverage due to linguistic and cultural barriers as well as immigration status, will stand to noticeably benefit from these expansions.
“We urge you to find out what your state is doing as part of the Affordable Care Act. Keep reaching for your best possible health. Let us imagine a nation in which everyone – regardless of race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, sexual identity or income – has an equal opportunity to live a healthy and dignified life,” added Dr. Cruz.
Every day, NHCOA works to close the gap on health disparities in the Hispanic community. NHCOA actively teaches, empowers and raises awareness on the need to improve the lives for one of our nation’s most vulnerable groups.
Find out what you can do to support the wellbeing of our diverse communities: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/actnow/
For access and information on the National CLAS Standards, please visit https://www.thinkculturalhealth.hhs.gov/index.asp