Tag: Latino

 

For Latino voters, health care is a top issue as Obamacare gains reverse under Trump

SAN ANTONIO — Larisa Alvarado, 36, feared she had the coronavirus when she woke up last week feeling an itch and pain in her leg that later advanced to swelling. She began running a fever and became nauseous.

A friend and poison control expert suggested her symptoms could be from a spider bite, and advised her to see a doctor. But before she went to an urgent care clinic, Alvarado first had to research the cost of a visit and of the medicine a doctor was likely to prescribe—to see if she could afford them.

That’s because she doesn’t have health insurance. Alvarado lost her job as a patient resource specialist with the American Cancer Society after the organization’s fundraising was hit due to the pandemic.

Alvarado is just one of more than 11.2 million Latinos in the United States who don’t have health insurance—in 2019, almost 17 percent of Hispanics didn’t have health coverage, the highest of any group. That was the figure from before the pandemic, which was already up from 10.22 million in 2016.

Now experts say that number is likely even higher given the pandemic’s disproportionate toll on the community.

As people lose work and health care benefits, it’s become an even tougher task to ensure residents get health coverage access, said Joe Ibarra, co-chair of EnrollSA, a coalition of organizations trying to boost insurance enrollment in the San Antonio area.

“In Texas, there is no expanded Medicaid. The rules are really harsh. Folks are losing coverage as a result of losing their jobs and they are left without good options,” Ibarra told NBC News.

Latinos gained the most under the Affordable Care Act after it was enacted in 2010, with about 4 million adults and 600,000 children gaining health care coverage by 2016.

As more people lose health insurance, the cost and the availability of coverage are top-tier issues for Hispanics this election cycle. Latinos rank it even ahead of jobs and the economy and place more importance on it than they did about this time in 2016.

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“Latinos are going to the polls keeping health care in mind and their experience with Covid in mind and voting for change for their health and well-being,” Alberto Gonzalez, senior policy strategist at UnidosUS, a Latino civil rights organization, said.

Early in the election cycle, the GOP was pointing to record low unemployment rates Latinos were experiencing as reason to re-elect Trump, while Democrats countered that Hispanics were not economically stable if many had to work more than one job to make ends meet.

But the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on Latinos has forced a reckoning of the gaps in health care coverage, especially in states like Texas with a huge Hispanic population.

Fears of Covid-19 — without health insurance

Before Alvarado lost her job, she was already skimping on her health, forgoing therapy for carpal tunnel to save on the steep copay and deductibles. Now without health

‘The impact of work’: On-the-job coronavirus exposure a key driver in Black, Latino communities | Business News

Because it was a nice afternoon in March, Katrina Llorens Joseph and her husband Albert decided to sit outside for lunch at the Subway restaurant not far from City Park.

Afterward, she went back to her desk at the VA Hospital, and he got behind the wheel of a city bus.

“He dropped me off at work and then he went on to work,” she said.

As routine as the lunch was, it now seems like a fateful one to Joseph, 52. The couple had been very careful about isolating. She believes her husband, 53, came in contact with the virus that day at an emergency meeting with a bunch of other bus drivers. Within a few weeks, 1 in 8 Regional Transit Authority employees would test positive in a COVID-19 outbreak that led to the deaths of three workers.

Antonio Travis is 27 years old and the picture of health.

Days after that lunch, Albert Joseph left work early, suffering from fevers, chills and a high fever.

His wife snapped into action. “I figured he had the virus,” she said.

Katrina Joseph moved to the guest room. She began wearing a mask in the house, pulled out new toothbrushes for everyone, wiped down doorknobs, washed her hands and served food on paper plates.

Even so, the whole family became infected. For the next few weeks, the couple and their daughter, Danielle, 19, were all bedridden in separate rooms of their house in Chalmette. They spiked 104-degree fevers. Sometimes, they collapsed on the way to the bathroom. On four separate occasions, when fingertip monitors indicated dangerously low oxygen levels, they called 911, though the ambulances twice left empty.



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Albert Joseph, a bus driver for RTA, poses in his home in Chalmette, La., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. The Joseph family suffered coronavirus at the same time.




Once, paramedics took an oxygen-deficient Albert Joseph to the hospital for a four-hour stay. The second time, they carried out a very weak Katrina Joseph. She spent eight days in Ochsner Health Center in St. Bernard Parish, “lying there, knowing that I had this disease that was killing people all around me.”

The Josephs’ story is hardly unusual. But leading researchers say their experience and others like it offer a window into why the coronavirus has hit Black communities particularly hard across the nation. Many frontline workers who continued to work through the pandemic were exposed on the job and brought the virus home to infect entire households.

Workplace spread a driver

Within Louisiana, Blacks have accounted for nearly half of all COVID-19 deaths to date, despite making up a little less than a third of state residents. The biggest reason for the coronavirus’ cruel toll in Black communities seems to be its outsized infection rate there: when compared with White Louisiana residents, Black Louisianans have been three times as likely to contract the virus.



101120 Racialized Pandemic Work Risks

A new, much-discussed study concluded that the disproportionate spread in the Black community originates in