Massachusetts has also long faced challenges in keeping health care affordable.
According to the report, Hispanics were most likely to report struggling with the cost of care. Nearly one in three Hispanic residents (32.5 percent) reported having an unmet health care need due to cost, compared to 27.3 percent of Black residents and 22.8 percent of White residents. Some of this disparity was driven by differences in income – at lower income levels, there were not significant racial disparities in the ability to afford care. But at higher income levels (over 300 percent of the federal poverty level), Hispanic residents were more likely than Whites to report not being able to afford care.
Hannah Frigand, director of the help line at Health Care for All, which helps consumers navigate health insurance, said while she had not read the study, its conclusions do not surprise her. Callers on the organization’s Spanish language call line often report difficulties getting or staying on health insurance coverage, whether because language barriers prevent them from understanding letters and forms or because they are immigrants used to the health care system in their former country. There are also fewer doctors who can serve people who do not speak English or are familiar with the cultures of immigrant communities.
“If it’s harder to navigate the health care system, often times that does result in people getting care in a more urgent state,” Frigand said.
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