“Light Bulb Moments”is a new weekly feature that will be appearing inBenefitsPRO to provide easy, user-friendly tips for benefits andfinancial professionals, as well as employers who work with Spanishspeakers.   

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If you missed it, be sure to check out last week's tip.

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Our system is difficult enough to navigate for those of us bornand raised here.  So people who come to this country fromLatin America to work are often extremely confused, as they areaccustomed to a very different way of doing things.

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First of all, one can often get a larger variety of strongermedication in Latin America from a pharmacy without aprescription.  So these folks can be reluctant to pay forinsurance, pay to visit a doctor to get a prescription, and thenpay for their medication.  They are accustomed to goingstraight to the drug store and paying once to get what they need(or what the pharmacist thinks they need).  Somepharmacies in Mexico even have doctors on staff whom you canconsult without an appointment for a very modest fee.

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In addition, while health care in Latin America can be expensivefor people of modest means, the costs, on average, are far lessthan they are in the United States.  If someone needssurgery, sometimes family members will chip in, somebody sells atruck, and the cost of care is covered.  When Spanishspeakers learn how much surgery or other extensive health careservices in this country might cost, they realize that they havenowhere near enough family members or trucks.  They decidethey will have an alternate plan, which often consists simply ofhoping for the best.

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For people who grew up in Latin America unable to afford carethere, being unable to afford care here is really no bigdeal.  It is a fact of life they are accustomed to, andthey are generally reluctant to make it a priority to pay forexpensive insurance so that they can access expensive healthcare.   In either case, the initial communicationthese folks need is on the role health insurance plays in buildingfinancial stability and security in thiscountry.   And yet we tend to throw plan detailsat them without laying this ground work (see Light Bulb Moment Número 1).

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Tune in next week for Light Bulb Moment Número3!

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Melissa Burkhart is the founderand president of Futuro Sólido, which provides a wide variety ofSpanish language services, including written translation, on-siteinterpretation, and language instruction. They have successfullyserved such industries as finance, insurance, landscaping,construction, manufacturing, health care, non-profit, andhospitality. To learn more, visit www.futurosolidousa.com.

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