Term Paper: Healthcare Problems Facing This Nation

Pages: 4 (1491 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Healthcare  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Thirteen percent said they don't have drinking water available to quench them on hot days in the fields of the Valley.

In Texas the problems are just as grave and the numbers just as alarming as in California. Diabetes, for which Mexican-Americans tend to be at greater risk for, is far more lethal along the border because of the large numbers of Mexicans who live there. The death rate for diabetes in Texas averages 17.8 deaths per 100,000 residents; however, the death rate is 24.9 in El Paso, 26.4 in the McAllen area and nearly 33 in Laredo, all areas which a high concentration of Hispanic workers. (Pinkerton 2002)

What is even more scary is the fact that the border regions are becoming incubators for diseases that are typically considered more part of the Third World than the U.S. "Outbreaks of mosquito-borne dengue fever, a plague of deadly birth defects, drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, rabies, leprosy, high rates of children with hepatitis A, and even cholera are crowding the plates of border health workers." (Pinkerton)

What we have is a full-blown health crisis in these border counties," warns state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso. "What others in Texas need to know is soon this will affect them -- the infectious TB not treated in Laredo soon ends up at Parkland (Hospital) in Dallas." (Pinkerton)

The biggest health issue might simply be lack of insurance. And while the statistics vary about just who and who doesn't have insurance, most studies indicated that at least one-third and as many as two-thirds of the migrant population does not have insurance. "A recent survey by the Border Health Office indicated that in the border's colonias, nearly 64% of the people did not have health insurance." (Pinkerton)

Even in cases where the workers have insurance, with annual incomes of under $10,000 they haven't the funds to manage copayments and even if they can are often so intimidated by the system that they won't seek out health care except in the most dire circumstances (which usually means seeking care often too late in the expensive emergency room). And when clients fail to pay their bills, the costs for everyone goes up.

According to Chief Operating Officer Irene Chavez, "The 494-bed Providence Hospital in El Paso provided $10 million to $11 million in free health care last year." (Pinkerton). Of that amount, only about three million was recovered by the hospital. It's the same story for all the hospital and medical facilities in the area, and whereas the hospitals must provide patient care regardless of the ability to pay, a good number of the uninsured - it not the majority -- use ERs as their primary care providers. This creates overcrowding in the ER's and increased costs for those who can pay to make up for those who can't (Lanzendorfer)

Transportation is another problem, as in many rural areas, health care is certainly not within walking distance. Still another recently emerging issue for farm workers is the impact that the use of insecticides may be having on their health. Various cancers and birth defects are being attributed to the use of chemicals, although the findings are not yet complete.

A study published last year in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine showed that Hispanic farm workers in California have much higher incidents of leukemia, as well as brain, stomach, and skin cancers. The study did not, however, establish a clear link between the cancer rates and pesticide exposure. (Lanzendorfer)

What is evident though, is that unless we start to recognize that this problem is not a Mexican problem, but our own, we will be hesitant to take the ownership necessary to conquer it.

Sources

Hahn, Kaye (1998) "Health Related Issues and Challenges of Women and Children In a Migratory WorkForce." Online at Medical College of Georgia Available: http://gain.mercer.edu/grha/migranthealth.PDF.(1/11/03)

Lanzendorfer, Joy Silent Suffering North Bay farm workers face a healthcare crisis." Online at Metro PublishingFrom the May 30-June 5, 2002 issue of the North Bay Bohemian. Available: http://www.metroactive.com/papers/sonoma/05.30.02/farmworkers-0222.html.(1/11/03)

Pinkerton, James. (May 2002). "Health Care: Crisis at the Border." Online at the Grande Valley Bureau Houston Chronicle. Available: http://namiscc.org/Advocacy/2002/BorderCrisis.htm.(1/12/03)

Stanley, Eduardo. March 27, 2001."Farm Worker Survey Uncovers Health Problems, Abuses." Online at New California Media. Avaialble: http://www.ncmonline.com/content/ncm/2001/mar/centralvalley.html.(1/10/03)

Zewe, Charles.(October 1999)"Texas experiences first dengue outbreak in almost 20 years." Online at CNN. Available:

http://europe.cnn.com/HEALTH/9910/06/dengue.fever/(1/11/03) [END OF PREVIEW]

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