Insurance coverage

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is working to help break down insurance coverage barriers

MILWAUKEE — Hispanics are Wisconsin’s largest and fastest growing racial and ethnic minority population, but according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, they also have the highest uninsured rates of any other group in the United States.

Maria Barker has worked at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin for 39 years. She is currently Director of LatinX Programs and Initiatives.

“About 35 to 37 percent of Wisconsin’s Latino population is uninsured,” Barker said.

People without health insurance often avoid going to the doctor, usually because of the cost of care, but for some Latinos, language barriers also play a role.

“For people who have a language access problem, for people who have just come to the United States from countries that usually see people without an appointment, this is a very new system,” said Barkers.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin works hard to not only provide health care to everyone, whether or not they have insurance. They also provide culturally appropriate services and language access.

“Helpline service is a telephone interpreter service that people are entitled to. It’s not just if a health care entity wants to provide it, it’s the law,” Barker said.

Barker says it’s a good resource, but maybe not the best. In his opinion, another great option is to hire someone who not only knows and understands the culture, but also speaks the language as a promotores de salud.

“We engage them as private consultants to reach the networks, communities and neighborhood they live in with information not only relevant to health care, but also to civic engagement,” Barker said.

When it comes to women’s health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the maternal mortality rate for Latin American women jumped sharply in 2020, up 44% from the previous year. Statistics also show that 61% of Hispanic mothers are in the workforce and juggle multiple roles, including caring for aging parents.

“We try to talk to women and help them understand the importance of taking time out of their busy schedules to take care of their well-being,” Barker said.

Barker’s ultimate goal is to make sure people know their worth, how to make their voice heard, and how to seek out the community resources available to them.

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