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 Hispanics See Cultural Barriers in Health Care System, Long Term Care, Study Finds

​A new poll said more than half of Hispanic adults report having encountered a communication barrier in their dealings with the health care system and many older Hispanics are concerned about the cultural accommodations in their local long term care service offerings.

The study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which offers a snapshot of the challenges and opportunities before providers, found half of the Hispanic adults age 18 and older who run into language barriers rely on family or another health care provider to help resolve language or cultural difficulties in the health care system. The poll said more than a quarter of those surveyed had used a translator, public resource in their community, or online source for assistance.

Those who were born outside the United States are more likely than others to experience communication challenges due to a language barrier (65 percent vs. 40 percent).

In addition to these issues, the survey said of the older Latinos responding less than half say it would be easy for them to find skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and home health aides that speak their language.

“Less than 3 in 10 say the same about providing the kinds of food they are used to. Some are also concerned about the availability of long term care services, particularly nursing homes and assisted living facilities, that will respect their religious or spiritual beliefs,” the report said.

Akin to the general population, many Hispanics age 40 and over expect to rely on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to pay for health care costs they could incur as they age. But, only about 2 in 10 expect these government programs to provide at least the same level of benefits five years from now as they do now.

Overall, only 15 percent of Hispanics age 40 and older feel confident they will be able to pay for the care they might need in the future.

Even as older Hispanics lack confidence in the sustainability of current government programs and their own financial means, “support is high for new proposals like the ability to get long term care coverage through Medicare Advantage, tax breaks for those who provide care, paid family leave, and a government-administered long term care insurance program,” the poll said.

The survey also found some openness to the use of telemedicine with more than 8 in 10 older Hispanics polled stating that they would be comfortable with some form of telemedicine. At the same time while comfort with telemedicine is generally high among older Hispanics, they are less comfortable than non-Hispanics with some services.

“For example, 52 percent of Hispanics age 40 and older are comfortable using the phone for medical consultation with their provider, compared to 68 percent of non-Hispanics age 40 and older,” the survey said.

See the full report at
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