Improving access to health care in Latino communities

R. B. Valdez*, A. Giachello, H. Rodriguez-Trias, P. Gomez, C. De la Rocha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Public debate about health care reform often focuses on the need for health insurance coverage, but in Latino communities many other barriers also inhibit access to medical care. In addition, basic public health services often go underfunded or ignored. Thus, health care reform efforts, nationally and in each State, must embrace a broader view of the issues if the needs of Latino communities are to be served. This report reviews and summarizes information about the mounting problems Latino communities face in gaining access to medical care. Access to appropriate medical care is reduced by numerous financial, structural, and institutional barriers. Financial barriers include the lack of health insurance coverage and low family incomes common in Latino communities. More than 7 million Latinos (39 percent) go without health insurance coverage. Latinos without health insurance receive about half as much medical care as those who are insured. Structurally, the delivery system organization rarely reflects the cultural or social concerns of the communities where they are located. Therefore, providers and patients fail to communicate their concerns adequately. These communication problems are exacerbated by the extreme shortage of Latino health care professionals and other resources available. Institutional barriers often reflect the failure to consider what it means to provide good service as well as high- quality medical care. Reducing these barriers to medical care requires modifying governmental and institutional policies, expanding the supply of competent providers, restructuring delivery system incentives to ensure primary care and public health services, and enhancing service and satisfaction with care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-539
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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