Demographic Disparities in California Greatly Affect Health

California public health officials have released a report highlighting how demographic disparities across the state affect physical and mental health, Payers & Providers reports.

Details of Report

The 96-page report was released by the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity.

Overall, OHE Deputy Director Jahmal Miller said the report demonstrates how health outcomes are affected by:

  • Education;
  • Employment status;
  • Gender identity;
  • Income;
  • Race and ethnicity; and
  • Sexual orientation.


Racial Disparities

The report identified several health disparities by race, including that:

  • Blacks have a higher death rate than any other racial and ethnic group in the state (Shinkman,Payers & Providers, 8/27);
  • Black children tend to have the lowest vaccination rate at each checkpoint for recommended vaccinations; and
  • Latinos have a higher uninsured rate than any other racial and ethnic group in California.

Meanwhile, the report found that black and Latino doctors are underrepresented in the state. Among all active physicians in 2012:

  • 52% were white;
  • 21% were Asian;
  • 4% were Latino; and
  • 3% were African American.

Income Disparities

According to the report, income also is a key factor in determining health outcomes (DPH report, August 2015). The report found that:

  • More than 66% of household wealth is held by whites, resulting in fewer resources for other racial groups to maintain healthy lifestyles and obtain health care services;
  • 40% of Californians with severe asthma live in households with incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level (Payers & Providers, 8/27); and
  • Low-income women in California were less likely to receive mammograms or Pap tests, compared with higher-income women (DPH report, August 2015).

Meanwhile, if California used an alternate measure of poverty created by the Office of Management and Budget, the state would have the highest poverty level in the country (Payers & Providers, 8/27).

Mental Health Disparities

Meanwhile, the report found that mental health varied by demographic, with:

  • Minority individuals with serious psychological distress having less access to health insurance or a usual source of care; and
  • Rates of suicidal thoughts being higher among bisexual, gay and lesbian adults.

Plan To Reduce Health Inequities

The report detailed a “Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity.”

The plan includes three strategic priorities:

  1. Building infrastructure to help residents and communities take corrective action;
  2. Identifying problems and potential remedies; and
  3. Sharing information (DPH report, August 2015).

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