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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.

WIC Program Creates Generations of Healthy Eating

RACHAEL OBAZUAYE
EL NUEVO SOL—SALUD

Lucila Hernandez and her son Anthony

Lucila Hernández and her son, Anthony.
Photo By: Rachael Obazuaye

In early 2007, 20-year old Lucila Hernández discovered she was pregnant with a little boy. She went in for her initial appointment with her doctor, who confirmed she was pregnant and everything was fine. However, at her second prenatal appointment her doctor ran blood tests and asked her something that would change her health and her life forever.

“He asked someone in my family had high blood pressure or diabetes,” says Hernández, “and I told him yes, because my mother and my father in law both are diabetic”

The doctor then asked Hernández what kinds of foods her diet consisted of.  She was honest with him and said she “was eating hamburgers, carnitas, beef  hamburgers, just a lot of fast foods.”

The doctor told Hernández that if she wanted a healthy baby and to be healthy herself, she had to stop eating unhealthy food.

“I was scared that anything cold be wrong with my baby and my health,” says Hernández. “I knew my eating habits had to change or I would be at risk of getting diabetes or even giving my baby diabetes which wouldn’t be fair to him.’

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes (7 million of them are undiagnosed), and another 41 million are said to have pre-diabetes; a condition where blood sugar rises above normal or stable levels.

In comparison to whites CDC indicates Latinos are almost twice as likely to have diabetes and among adults aged 18 to 44 years, 3.2 percent of Latinos had diagnosed diabetes compared with 1.3 percent of non-Hispanic whites in the same age group.

CDC says gestational diabetes — a form of diabetes diagnosed in pregnant women — affects ten out of every hundred women. This category of diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy however; sometimes it does not, and develops into type two diabetes.

Diabetes increases the chances of miscarriage, premature birth, still birth, and the need to have a C-section. Heart disease and stroke are serious complications caused by diabetes so CDC warns “prevention is key.”

Hernández’s doctor told her about Women, Infants and Children, also known as WIC, a federal program that assists women in low income households. Her doctor recommended the program to Lucila to help her learn and practice healthier eating habits.

The program provides vouchers from the state to women who are pregnant and women after pregnancy. The services are also available to their infants and children up to the age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. No insurance coverage is necessary to participate in the WIC program.

Hernandez’s doctor suggested she immediately became involved with WIC, and she did.

“I was scared to hear that anything could be wrong with my baby, I already cared so much for him, even though he was not born yet, and wanted the best,” Hernández says.

Hernández was not only looking to improve her health, she wanted her baby to grow up  healthy as well.

“WIC is a program that helps not only individuals themselves but helps generations of family to come,” WIC representative Julia Barco says.

Through WIC nutritional classes, Hernández says she learned portion control and substitution which she tells her 58-year-old mother-in-law is a good way to start.

“Eating healthy is good but so hard to do,” Hernández’s mother-in-law Consuelo Pérez says. “But Lucila teaches us how to make delicious healthy foods.”

Hernández completely changed the way she eats.

“I eat more chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit, salad, and don’t use a lot of oil,” she says.

Brown Rice and Chicken Vegetable Soup a California WIC recipe

Brown Rice and Chicken Vegetable Soup, a California WIC recipe

Today, 26-year old Hernández grabs a grocery cart and begins shopping for dinner. She starts in the fruit and vegetable isle, grabs two carrots, a leafy bushel of kale, and a large onion.

Her five year old son, Anthony, scans all the fruits and vegetables. His round, brown eyes open wide. He excitingly darts over to a bin filled with apples and grasps a couple. Anthony politely asks his mom if he can have the plush red apples; she nods yes.

Hernández continues shopping for the rest of her groceries — brown rice and chicken breasts. She is making brown rice and chicken vegetable soup — a dish in a recipe book she received from WIC.

Not only did Hernández benefited from WIC, three generations of her family learned how to eat healthy through the WIC program. Lucila, her mother in law, and her five year old son, Anthony.

When her son is asked what his favorite foods were, he didn’t say hamburgers, or chips, or even candy, Anthony said, as he took a sip from a carton of milk, “broccoli” and “strawberries.”

Dinner is served at Lucila's Home in Los Angeles

Dinner is served at Lucila’s Home in Los Angeles

Anthony enjoys the healthy dinner his mother prepared

Anthony enjoys the healthy dinner his mother prepared

College Students Wonder: What Is Obamacare?

DARRIN JOHNSON
EL NUEVO SOL—SALUD

With the Supreme Court upholding Obamacare, and President Obama being re-elected, Obamacare is now inevitability. Obamacare is an overhaul of our current healthcare system, which will bring changes such as expanded Medicare coverage, an expanded time period in which young adults can be on their parent’s healthcare coverage, and making it harder for insurance companies to deny people with pre-existing health conditions.

However, there is both a lack of the facts on Obamacare and quite a bit of misinformation as well. A quick Google search of Obamacare will reveal a plethora of websites dedicated to discrediting this attempt at health reform. If one were to go off of what they found on page one of a Google search for the term “Obamacare” they would not come away with an encouraging picture of what it will do.

President Obama Signing The Health Care Bill

President Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House. March 23, 2010. Photo: Keith Ellison.

One segment of the American population that will be particularly affected are college students. Many are under 26 and are on their parent’s healthcare. Many college students will also be living with the changes that Obamacare will bring for many years. The individual parts of the new law will go affect incrementally. As a result, the full effect of it will not be felt until 2020.

Despite how much of an effect the law will have on college students, even they are not well informed on what Obamacare entails. This is not even taking into account whether or not students feel positively or negatively about it. It is rather about the lack of general knowledge on what it does.

The full text of what Obamacare includes can be found at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/hr3590/text. This is the actual bill, so the language used can be quite technical. A simplified, but not complete, overview of Obamacare can be found at http://obamacarefacts.com/affordable-care-act-facts.php