Latino Medi-Cal Beneficiaries Face Disproportionate Barriers to Care

California Healthline, Monday, August 10, 2015

Latinos covered by Medi-Cal have more trouble accessing care than other beneficiaries, according to a study by the California HealthCare Foundation, AP/Modern Healthcare reports. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

CHCF publishes California Healthline.

Findings on Care Access

The study found that 36% of Spanish-speaking beneficiaries have been told a physician will not accept them as a new patient, compared with 7% of all Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

According to AP/Modern Healthcare, beneficiaries who speak both English and Spanish also said they faced barriers to accessing providers.

Sarah de Guia, executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, said the reasons why Latinos are turned away by physicians could include:

  • Low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates; and
  • Language barriers.

Barriers to Understanding Providers

Meanwhile, Latinos and Asian-Americans had the highest rates of needing assistance to understand their doctor. For example, 28% of Asian-Americans participating in Medi-Cal said their provider does not listen carefully, compared with 15% of the overall Medi-Cal population.

Shana Alex Charles, a research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research who helped conduct the study, said Latinos and other groups could have trouble understanding their health care provider because of:

  • A lack of providers in California who speak Spanish; or
  • An overall shortage of providers in minority communities.

Reaction

According to AP/Modern Healthcare, the California Department of Health Care Services said that the agency is working with health plans to reduce health care disparities. In addition, DHCS noted that Medi-Cal offers resources and hotline assistance in 13 spoken and 12 written languages.

Meanwhile, California Medical Association spokesperson Molly Weedn said the organization encourages its members to be sensitive to cultural and language differences (AP/Modern Healthcare, 8/8).

Source: California Healthline, Monday, August 10, 2015