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Valenzuela: Breaking down the barriers to maintaining quality healthcare

By Maria Valenzuela | Point of View

Scheduling your annual well-check with the doctor is not on top of anyone’s to-do list. There are many reasons for this, including not wanting to disrupt an already busy schedule or fear that something might really be wrong.

Everyone has reasons for not wanting to go to the doctor, but sometimes there are obstacles out of our control that make picking up the phone to schedule an appointment even more difficult.

According to Pew Research Center, when it comes to navigating the healthcare system, about half (48 percent) of Latino Americans say less access to quality medical care where they live is a major reason for worse health outcomes among Latino people in the U.S., and 44 percent say that communication problems resulting from language or cultural differences is another major reason.

Barriers to healthcare such as transportation, lack of healthcare information and understanding, and difficulty engaging in and maintaining preventative care continue to be at the top of the list for obstacles members of the Latino community must overcome.

Our mission at Advance is to strengthen underserved Latino communities across Maricopa County. Access to healthcare and health equity is a major part of that mission.

Advance offers resources–whether that be access to specialized practitioners or educational tools–that help people navigate and understand the healthcare system and associated insurance plans which can eliminate language and other cultural barriers down the road. We are committed to helping our clients understand the very complicated U.S. health system. By doing so, we fulfill our mission of simplifying healthcare for the community and help others make wiser choices when it comes to their mental and physical health.

Breaking down the barriers to maintaining quality healthcare

The Pew Research Center also found that Latino Americans are evenly divided over how easy it is to understand the process for getting medical care: 50% say it’s very or somewhat easy to understand the process for getting medical care at hospitals and medical centers, while about as many (49%) say this process is very or somewhat hard to understand.
You might be asking yourself, what does it mean to simplify the complicated system, and how does that help me communicate my health concerns to my doctor? Good question.

Advance lets people know what their options are, catering our services to an individual’s specific needs. We can help find the best resource for reviewing or setting-up insurance plans, finding doctors, assisting with scheduling appointments and providing access to transportation.

Addressing the healthcare needs of the community is critically important as certain health conditions can be minimized or even prevented through education and access to healthy foods. Offering solutions and access to preventative care is where we can tackle the barriers to healthcare in our communities.

Editor’s note: Maria Valenzuela is chief program officer for Advance.

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