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Know Your Rights
Source: Crain's New York Business
Subject: Health Justice & Access
Type: Media Coverage

Health department zooms in on Latino health

Latinos in New York City are less likely to have health insurance than other city residents, with 22% lacking coverage compared with 9% of all non-Latinos in the city, according to the city’s first major study on the health status of Latinos.

The report, released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, found numerous disparities by nationality and country of origin.

For instance, the city’s uninsured rate among adult Mexicans is 54%, and 29% of residents of Central and South American heritage lack insurance.

A higher percentage of Latinos born outside the U.S.—especially recent immigrants—are uninsured compared with U.S.-born Latinos. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for Medicaid and subsidies on the state’s Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Latino adults were less likely to have a primary care provider or dentist and were more likely to be obese than non-Latinos. They also had higher rates of high-blood pressure, diabetes and asthma.

Despite these health factors, Latinos have a lower rate of premature death than non-Latinos, though Puerto Ricans’ rate of premature death is more than double that of other Latino groups. Latinos report lower incidences of cancer, with the exception of liver cancer.

“Despite having fewer social, economic and health care opportunities than other residents, Latino New Yorkers as a whole tend to have more favorable health-related outcomes,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett wrote in the report.

Rebecca Telzak, health program director at Make the Road New York, said extending ActionHealthNYC—a pilot that ended in June—which provided access to low-cost or free care to immigrants who were not eligible for health insurance, could help address some of the disparities Latinos face. —J.L. and C.L.

This article appeared in Crain’s Health Pulse.