This Article examines the extent to which the U.S. healthcare system is equitable for older Latinos, using the World Health Organization (WHO) and the related Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) criteria on health outcomes, access/responsiveness and financing. We argue that improving health equity requires more than actions aimed at health behavior and culturally-based beliefs targeted at the individual. Improving equity also requires changes in broader social and political processes affecting entire populations and organizations of care, paying special attention to how these changes affect the Latino elderly.
Healthcare is particularly important for the older population. Persons age 65 and older have the highest overall rates of death, disease and disability, as well as the most frequent and intense use of medical services. U.S. public policy has acknowledged the high medical care needs of many elderly by establishing Medicare as a universal health insurance starting at age 65, and supplementing it with Medicaid, the public-assistance program for low-income older persons.