Health care needs of the growing Latino population in rural America: Focus group findings in one Midwestern state

Lynn A. Blewett, Sally A. Smaida, Claudia Fuentes, Ellie Ulrich Zuehlke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Latinos represent nearly 13% of the U.S. population, surpassing African -Americans as the nation's largest racial/ethnic group. Many rural midwestern communities are seeing unprecedented growth in their Latino populations, creating new challenges and pressures for health and social service providers. This study is based on four focus groups conducted in three rural communities to examine concerns with health care services and access to care. Focus group analysis found several key barriers to health care access, including cost of health care services and frustration with the complexity of the U.S. health care system, as well as language and cultural issues that adversely affect patient-provider relationships. In addition, a number of impediments related to employer-sponsored health coverage were identified, including prohibitive premium costs as well as concerns about occupational injuries and access to care during work hours. The growth of the Latino population in the rural Midwest will require changes in existing health and social service systems to serve as a bridge to new systems in this country. We recommend several policy options including premium subsidies for low-wage jobs, community-based enrollment specialists for public programs, and continued research and data collection to monitor change and progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

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