In spite of efforts of health care professionals to improve the situation in the United States regarding the access to healthcare services, the quality of services provided for minority groups in the country is often lower in comparison with the numbers for the Whites. In this context, it is important to examine the situation regarding the health profiles of such large US minority groups as African Americans and Hispanics. The reason is that Hispanics represent 17% of the total US population with the largest proportion of persons aged 15-35 years, and African Americans represent 13% of the population with the largest number of persons aged 20-45 years (Figure 1; The Office of Minority Health, 2015). Although African American and Hispanic minority populations are similar regarding the low access to the healthcare, the low insurance coverage, and common medical conditions, these groups are characterized by differences in relation to cultural norms and beliefs influencing their health.
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Similarities and Differences in Accessing the Health Care
The access to the health care is a problem for African Americans and Hispanics because only the low percentage of these minority populations regularly see doctors and receive the professional medical assistance. The reasons for this problem are similar, and they include poverty, the low percentage of insurance coverage and low education levels associated with income and cultural perceptions. Thus, many African Americans and Hispanics regularly reject visiting doctors in spite of the increased participation in social and insurance programs, including Medicare and Medicaid; and prevention and management of certain conditions is complicated in these minority groups.
Although the reasons for the low access to the health care are similar, the actual numbers are different for African Americans and Hispanics. Thus, 30% of Hispanics do not have the source of care and visit a doctor regularly in comparison with 20% of African Americans. Besides, 26% of Hispanics have no insurance in contrast to 17% of African Americans, who has no health insurance (Figure 1; US Census Bureau, 2015). These factors influence medical conditions in these minority populations directly because the absence of insurance associated with the low-income status affects the person’s opportunities to access the high-quality care. From this point, the situation for the Hispanic population is more critical than for African Americans.
Ways to Address Identified Factors to Increase the Trust in Populations
Health care professionals have necessary means in order to contribute to changing the situation to positive and increase the trust in minority groups. First, it is necessary to address cultural norms and beliefs regarding the health. Such typical medical conditions in African Americans as heart diseases (24%) and cancer (22%) are often associated with the absence of preventive measures, and such prevalent conditions as obesity and diabetes often result from negative lifestyle and eating habits, including the sedentary lifestyle and eating a lot of fast food and sugar. When African Americans need the medical assistance, they prefer using alternative medicine and herbal drugs. These individuals often resist visiting doctors because of noticing disrespect and prejudice. The level of satisfaction with healthcare services is rather low in African Americans (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). The similar situation is typical for Hispanics who often suffer from cancer (22%), heart diseases (18%), and unintentional injuries (16%) (Figure 2). The levels of obesity and diabetes are also high because of eating the traditional food like tacos or burritos. Still, Hispanics often reject opportunities to see a doctor not because of financial issues, but because of language problems. They prefer to treat family members at home, using traditional methods, like distinguishing between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ diseases.
From this point, the main approach addressing identified factors is to decrease the language barrier and use the help of interpreters in facilities, if it is necessary. Health care professionals also need to focus on the literacy levels and cultural visions of these populations and consider this fact while explaining treatment options depending on the people’s linguistic competency. It is important to for healthcare professionals to understand causes of typical diseases in minority groups and attract more people to visit doctors regularly while demonstrating the cultural awareness and respect for these persons’ values.
The Role of Cultural Proficiency
The cultural competence of health care professionals is as important for improving the health status of minorities as the increased funding and expanded insurance coverage. Many African Americans and Hispanics with such chronic conditions as high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer do not visit doctors regularly because they feel uncomfortable while communicating with professionals (Disparities in healthcare quality, 2011). The problem is often in the low level of cultural awareness and competence in medical workers. In this case, it is necessary to improve the health care professionals’ knowledge of cultural values, religious beliefs, and language of minorities to avoid problems when a patient feels that the attitude is biased, and the provided care is worse than proposed to other ethnicities.
Thus, health care professionals need to develop their cultural competence in order to address the needs of the diverse American population and improve the persons’ medical experiences. This approach is important because cultural proficiency leads to increasing the access to the health care and rising rates of minority representatives who use the advantages of preventive care regularly.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Racial and ethnic minorities. Web.
The Office of Minority Health. (2015). Minority populations. Web.
US Census Bureau. (2015). Quick facts. Web.