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Study of 160,000 Medicare Patients Shows Hispanics Have Greater Costs for End-of-Life Care
Date:3/10/2009

Findings show importance of advance directives for making wishes known

WASHINGTON, March 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Families are often caught unprepared when dealing with a loved one's serious illness. It is another reason why health reform is so important for our communities," said Dr. Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the nation's leading Hispanic health advocacy group. "Without family discussions about end-of-life care, we and our loved ones may not have the dignity and comfort we deserve and may be subjected to needless invasive practices."

In the largest research study of its kind, the treatment experiences of over 160,000 Medicare patients were reviewed. The study results released this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that in the last six months of life, cost for care for Hispanic patients ($31,702) was 60% higher than for non-Hispanic white patients($20,166).

According to Dr. Delgado, "studies have shown that Hispanics are less likely that non-Hispanic whites to have advance directives. Making our end-of-life wishes known is made more difficult by the fact that Hispanics are the group least likely to have a regular provider of care and often face language and cultural barriers in communicating with their provider." Delgado added, "We all must take the time to talk with a health provider or counselor who understands the issues and be informed about advance directives."

To assist families with end-of-life issues, the Alliance announced the availability of the Cuidando con Carino, Compassionate Care bilingual fact sheet developed in partnership with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). The Alliance also announced availability of personalized assistance through its toll-free Su Familia National Hispanic Family Health Helpline at 1-866-783-2645.

"While most of us do not want to deal with the issue of death, we all need to be informed. One of the most loving things we can do is make sure that we have an advance directive and inform our health care provider about our wishes so that our loved ones do not have to make such decisions in the most difficult of times," concluded Dr. Delgado.

About the National Alliance for Hispanic Health: The Alliance is the nation's foremost source of information and trusted advocate for the health of Hispanics in the United States. The Alliance represents thousands of Hispanic health providers across the nation providing services to more than 15 million each year, making a daily difference in the lives of Hispanic communities and families. For more information, visit http://www.hispanichealth.org or call the Alliance's Su Familia National Hispanic Family Health Helpline at 1-866-783-2645.


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SOURCE National Alliance for Hispanic Health
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