Dr. Elena Rios Quoted in June 7, 2010 Newsweek Article

Falling Through the Cracks:
Why Hispanics find it especially difficult to access health care.

Dr. Elena Rios, president of the National Hispanic Medical Association, “Hispanics [often] don’t enroll” in either private or public insurance, even if it is available to them. For those who have access to insurance through their employers, this may be because they still cannot afford their share of the premiums. Those eligible for public programs may not know how to enroll. They also are often afraid to participate in a government program.

“The thing that affects a lot in the Latino community is fear,” explains Dr. Gonzalo Paz-Soldan, medical director of the Arlington Pediatric Center in northern Virginia. He points out that there is a large number of Latino children who qualify for Medicaid but who aren’t enrolled, possibly because undocumented parents may be scared to enroll their children, even if those children were born in the U.S. and are citizens. “There’s a fear of accessing any kind of government program or anything that feels like a government program,” he says, “because there’s a prevailing feeling in the community that it’s going to have a negative impact on the family and the child’s immigration status.” Even legal permanent residents may be afraid to enroll their children, says Paz-Soldan, out of concern that it will be viewed as taking “some kind of welfare,” he says, and be held against them when they apply for citizenship.


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