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Annual Check-ups and Blood Tests: for Blacks and Latinos What Patients Need to Know


Photo Caption: Dr. Albert Arteaga, pediatrician and CEO of LaSalle Medical Associates, Inc.

Annual check-ups are important for everyone, and a complete blood panel is an essential part of that check-up. Some of the most serious diseases can take a long time for symptoms to get to the point that the person notices something doesn't feel or look right, and by then, it often takes a lot longer and costs a lot more for treatment at best or, at worst, starts too late and results in lifelong disability or even death.


The California Health Care Foundation notes that in 2021, Blacks had the shortest life expectancy at birth compared to all other races/ethnicities. Life expectancy for the Black population was 11 years shorter than that of the Asian population and 6 years shorter than the state average. The Asian population had the longest life expectancy at birth of all racial/ethnic groups.


While the Hispanic/Latino population fares better in terms of life expectancy (83.2 years), they have the highest rates of being uninsured at 11 percent—more than double the percentages for Black, Asian, multiracial and white people. They also have the highest percentage of people covered through Medi-Cal—36 percent, compared to the state average of 25. Only four percent have private health insurance; 47 percent are covered by their employers, compared to the statewide average of 60 percent.


These disparities in health, wellness and insurance coverage present problems that are not always adequately addressed when it’s time for one’s annual checkup. That’s because publicly provided plans like Medi-Cal tend to have low reimbursement rates that impose limits on how much time physicians can spend on patient care.


There are many kinds of blood tests that can be given during an annual checkup, but as more tests are ordered, it can mean doctors spend more time evaluating them than insurance will pay for. Tests for such conditions as STDs, HIV/AIDS, HPV (human papillomavirus), hepatitis, many cancers...all these and more can be silently attacking one's body without one noticing anything unusual. All too often the specific blood test that could diagnose the condition and get treatment started early isn't part of the annual check-up.


Photo Caption: Nurse Elisabeth delivering a check up and vaccine to patient Eduaido Torres of 13-year-old Eastville resident. (Photo by Chris Sloan)

People low on the socioeconomic scale who rely solely on Medi-Car to pay their medical bills may not get as complete a set of blood tests as the well-to-do patient with an expensive PPO plan.


LaSalle Medical Associates of California, has found a way to overcome this problem. LaSalle treats every patient it sees to the same high standard of care. Black, White, Brown, Asian, Indigenous... everyone gets a complete blood panel as part of their comprehensive annual check-up.


Why? Medical professionals knows that it’s too often the case that Brown and Black and underserved patients don’t get blood testing that goes beyond the usual routine panel to check for less-common illnesses and diseases.


Dr. Albert Arteaga, CEO of LaSalle Medical Associates, says, “Every patient we see gets a complete blood panel test as part of their annual check-up.


“When my wife and I opened our first clinic almost 40 years ago, we decided that every patient would get the same high standard of care. We knew that catching problems early is better not only for our patients but also for our physicians, our staff, and our business.”


By spotting the red flags, the attending physicians catch things that otherwise would not show up in the usual blood panel and get the people who trust LaSalle to care for them, on the road to recovery right away.


Preventive medicine works to reduce poor healthcare outcomes for Latinos and Blacks and the underserved when healthcare providers go the distance to make sure their patients get it. “As a Latino-owned healthcare provider, we use CDC-approved treatment schedules to make sure our patients get the healthcare they need,” says Arteaga.


“We believe that improved healthcare for all of our patients starts with regular checkups, annual for adults and more often for children 1 to 4,” Arteaga said.


A routine checkup can uncover conditions like type 2 diabetes, hepatitis C and some cancers that can be “hiding out,” so to speak. By the time the patient starts to notice symptoms, it can be too late.


For more information or to make an appointment, call 1-855-349-6019.


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