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US economic woes ripple all the way to Latin America, U-M study shows
Date:3/26/2012

The national recession didn't just hit people living in the U.S. it's made it more difficult for people to pay for medical bills in poor countries like Honduras, according to a new University of Michigan study.

As employment opportunities have dried up for Latino immigrants in the U.S., so has their ability to send financial assistance to chronically ill family members in their home countries, according to a U-M study published online this week ahead of print in the International Journal of Health Services.

"Remittance payments from relatives living in the United States are a major source of income for chronically ill people in Latin America," says lead study author John D. Piette, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, Associate Director for Global Health Technologies of the U-M Center for Global Health, and senior research scientist with the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

"It may be hard to imagine causal linkages between a factory closing in Michigan or a pay cut for restaurant workers in Iowa and the health care of someone in rural Honduras.But the results of this study suggest that economic stresses in the United States ripple outward."

In a 2009 survey of 624 chronically ill adults in poverty-stricken Honduras, investigators found that more than half reported relatives living outside of the country, and of that group, two thirds received remittances. Seventy-four percent of those receiving the support reported a decrease over the prior year, mostly due to job losses among relatives abroad.

Decreases in remittance payments averaged roughly $700 per year a significant loss in a country where many families live on less than $200 per month.

Patients receiving reduced support from families overseas were less likely to visit a hospital for a health emergency and were more likely to take less of their medications than prescribed because of financial strain.'/>"/>

Contact: Beata Mostafavi
bmostafa@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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