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Soap Opera Gets Latinos In Tune With Health Care

A doctor tells them the boy suffered fractured ribs but, luckily for him, he qualifies for Child Health Plan Plus, a state program for uninsured children and pregnant women who can't afford private insurance but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Lindsay said most people in Colorado who are eligible for public health insurance are Latino but are "very hard to reach." Some 62 percent of Colorado children who qualify for the program and Medicaid are Latino. Almost 20 percent of Colorado's estimated 4.8 million residents are Latino.

About 40 percent of the state's adult Latinos don't have health care coverage, more than any other ethnic group, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Latino children ages 2 to 14 have the state's highest obesity rate at 24.1 percent. Almost 37 percent of Latino women older than 40 did not have a mammogram from 2004 to 2007, also the highest rate among any other group in the state. And Colorado Latinos have the highest mortality rate for diabetes at 45 percent, compared to 29.2 percent for blacks, the state's second highest rate.

Language barriers are sometimes a factor. Other times, it's trying to navigate a complex and unfamiliar health system. "Some of them come from very small communities where they would get sick and just go to the town doctor," said Mauricio Palacio, director of the state department's Office of Health Disparities.

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