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Latinos justifican altos costos de salud en Europa a cambio de oportunidades

Por IVETTE LOPEZ
EL NUEVO SOL-SALUD

Para algunos de los latinoamericanos viviendo en Alemania, el alto precio de salud vale la pena.

Es una mañana nublada en el centro comercial de Venlo, Holanda. Alrededor hay tiendas de ropa, zapatos, y una inmensa cantidad de cafés en los cuales se encuentra gente charlando, fumando y escuchando las flautas típicas de una región muy lejana: Ecuador.

Carlos Chacón, músico ecuatoriano, toca canciones ecuatorianas y versiones de canciones americanas. Tiene viviendo 16 años en Alemania. Foto: Ivette Lopez

Carlos Chacón, músico ecuatoriano, toca canciones ecuatorianas y versiones de canciones americanas. Tiene viviendo 16 años en Alemania. Foto: Ivette Lopez

Carlos Chacón es uno de dos músicos ecuatorianos que se presentan en Venlo los fines de semana. El se mudó a Europa después de una oportunidad de viajar a Suiza para una presentación. Originalmente del Ecuador, tiene viviendo 16 años en Alemania.

“Musicalmente, me gustó mucho como es Europa. Luego tuvimos la oportunidad de viajar a Alemania, donde me quede, prácticamente”, dice Chacón.

Para él, la cultura, comida y costumbres toman un tiempo para adaptarse. Pero en cuestiones de salud, Europa también tiene un sistema muy distinto al estadounidense o al latinoamericano.

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En específico Alemania, que es el país donde él reside, se gastan entre $3,000 a $4,000 per capita a través del país según la Organización Mundial de la Salud . En un artículo publicado por la Radio Pública o NPR, calcularon que en Alemania se gasta aproximadamente el 8 por ciento del sueldo en seguros médicos. La gente aporta este porcentaje a través de sus trabajos, y los jefes aportan otro 8 por ciento.

Si una persona gana más de $72,000, tiene la opción de comprar un seguro a través de una organización lucrativa en donde le pueden ofrecer otras opciones, aparte de las que se ofrecen con los seguros ofrecidos por organizaciones no lucrativas. Aunque el gobierno no esta directamente a cargo de los costos de seguros médicos, sí se asegura que estas compañías hagan sus coberturas justas en base al sueldo del asegurado.

Como Chacón trabaja por su propia cuenta, él paga un seguro médico privado, que suelen ser mas caros que los seguros ofrecidos por las organizaciones no lucrativas. Gasta aproximadamente 25 por ciento de su sueldo en seguros médicos.

“Si un latino está en condiciones ilegales, pienso que sí es un problema”, asegura Chacón. “Los costos de medicina o visitas al médico son muy altos. Pero si tienen todo en regla, no hay absolutamente ningún problema”.

Una de esas personas es César Llontop. Originalmente de Perú, él se mudó a España hace 11 años, y vivió cinco años como indocumentado en ese país. Su oficio era de vendedor ambulante.

“Sin documentos, la gente te quiere explotar”, dijo Llontop. “Quieren pagarte lo que sea, trabajas muchas horas y te pagan poco”.

Llontop compara al sistema de salud de Alemania y España, diciendo que aún sin documentos, el tenía acceso gratuito a médicos en España. Ahora en Alemania, trabaja medio tiempo haciendo la limpieza de un centro comercial y tiene que pagar una tarifa alta en seguros médicos cada mes.

“Eso yo lo veo un pequeño hándicap en comparación de España”, dijo Llontop. “Yo ahora mismo estoy pagando un seguro por cuenta propia que es un aporte de 150 euros mensuales”.

Para Llontop, que dice ganar 500 euros mensuales en el trabajo de medio tiempo, 150 euros es un precio alto a pagar. Pero Llontop dice que las oportunidades en Alemania sobrepasan el precio de la salud. Espera obtener una carrera técnica, aprender el idioma y así, poder sobresalir en el país teutón.

The Chances for A Healthier Lifestyle Diminish as San Bernardino Grows More Bankrupt

BELEN CHACON
EL NUEVO SOL—SALUD

Photo Credit: Good Faith Mediations

Photo Credit: Good Faith Mediations

When it comes to talking about San Bernardino’s distressing food and health situation, it’s almost impossible not to talk about the economics of the region. Several cuts have been made by the city council to preserve the city due to its recent bankruptcy.

Twenty-seven-year-old James Peddy was born and raised in San Bernardino. He feels as if the healthy dining options in the region are limited.

“I’d say the vast majority of restaurants or eateries that you see are going to be your chains, fast-food…even on Hospitality Lane, those are all your TGI Friday’s, your Chili’s, Black Angus, Olive Garden, all those,” said Peddy.

But it’s not just the public dining that needs improvement. San Bernardino doesn’t seem to be encouraging local residents to lead a healthier lifestyle.

“I never see any signage promoting healthy eating. At least when I graduated from high school the eating options in were horrific…certainly in terms of taste, but definitely in terms of healthy aspects. There were some options, but it just wasn’t enough,” added Peddy.

Chambra Spargo, a mother of three and a San Bernardino native, feels that the overall morale of the community is suffering due to its problems.

“The economy isn’t so good here. If you’re looking for a job a lot of the times you have to go outside of San Bernardino County. For instance, I work in Pomona because there are not really any jobs out here. So I know that affects a lot of people,” said Spargo. “I just feel like morale in the city is really low. People don’t take a lot of pride in this community, and I just feel like it really brings it down.”

In a recent case study by the Voice of California, the unemployment rate in San Bernardino County was 14.9 percent in 2010 and is now 15 percent as of September 2012, according to the Google Public Explorer website.

Spargo shops at Stater Bros. for her groceries, but sometimes prefers shopping at Fresh and Easy. Although it is in a less convenient location and the groceries are generally more expensive, Spargo is satisfied with the variety and the overall quality of the food.

“Food 4 Less by the way, I never ever go in. I think that the quality of their produce is horrible. When you go to pick out all the produce, there are a lot of fruit flies and stuff on it and it just looks sticky and dirty. I tried to buy mangos there one time and they were really mushy and when I took them home to cut them open, they were actually brown,” said Spargo.

After the Thanksgiving holiday last year, the San Bernardino City Council presented their final pendency plan where they voted

Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

San Bernardino City Hall
Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

to cut $26 million in spending in an effort to keep the bankrupt city from being governed by the county.

Some of these cuts include the slashing of the police force. About 80 police officers will be cut, which will more than likely result in a higher increase in violent crime.

“I feel safe, where I’m at now in this area, but in the past areas of San Bernardino, I definitely did not feel safe. My car got broken into twice, there were fights that would break out in our neighborhood, you would see people selling drugs, dealing drugs, on drugs…I felt really unsafe,” expressed Spargo.

It goes without saying that San Bernardino’s issues with crime and lack of healthy communities are directly correlated with the region’s unfortunate economic situation. Until San Bernardino’s economic standing improves, the future of the communities in the region won’t be a positive one.

Proper vision care helps kids at school

SANDY ISIDORO
EL NUEVO SOL—SALUD

Oscar showing off his new glasses.

Oscar showing off his new glasses.
Photo: Sandy Isidoro

For 8-year-old Oscar, eye care is important. Now that he has received proper eye care, he can run around in the playground at school with other kids his age; all thanks to his visit to the optometrist.

The American Optometric association explains Amblyopia, or lazy eye, as generally the result of poor early visual development, and as such, usually occurs before the age of eight. Infants born prematurely, or with low birth weight, are at a greater risk for the development of this condition.

It is estimated that 2 to 4 percent of children have amblyopia.

Oscar doesn’t see himself any different from the other kids he goes to school with. His glasses have become a part of his identity and, as he states, it doesn’t matter if you have glasses or not, you can still be friends. While some kids may be embarrassed about their glasses, Oscar is anything but shy.

According to the American Optometric Association, one in four children has an undetected vision condition that can negatively impact their learning ability. An eye exam not only ensures that common vision problems, such as poor eye coordination, lazy eye and farsightedness, are checked, but also, it can detect signs of chronic health and eye diseases. Most of which, if caught early, are treatable.

According to the American Public Health Association, 25 percent of students in grades K-6 have visual problems that are serious enough to impede learning.

The American Optometric Association also states that at least one child out of every seven, who are under the age of five, has had an examination by an optometrist. Only one child in three has had an eye exam or screening prior to entering school. A child’s development depends heavily on the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of a vision problem.

By going to an annual eye exam, people can prevent and diagnose various diseases. For low-income families, there are other alternatives. Various organizations provide financial assistance for those children who need eye care. Organizations, such as Vision to Learn, InfantSEE, Sight for Students and others, can help low income families.

Now, Oscar will continue to use glasses with the hopes that his eye condition improves. There is always the option for surgery, but for now, because he is so young, glasses are his only option.