Nationally, one-third of women self-identify as a member of a racial or ethnic minority group and it is estimated that this will grow to more than half by 2045. As the country becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, there is a growing recognition of the need to understand racial and ethnic disparities in health status and access to care.
A new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Putting Women’s Health Care Disparities on the Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level,” documents the persistence of disparities between white women and women of color across the country and on a broad range of indicators of health and well-being, including rates of diseases, such as diabetes, AIDS and cancer, as well as access to health insurance and preventive screenings.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, women of color consistently fared worse than white women across a broad range of measures in almost every state, and in some states, these disparities were quite stark.
For Hispanic women, access and utilization were consistent problems, even though they fared better on some health status indicators, such as smoking and cancer mortality. A greater share of Latinas than other groups lacked insurance coverage, did not have a personal doctor/health care provider, and delayed or went without care because of cost. Latinas were also disproportionately poor and had low educational status, factors that contribute to their overall health and access to care. The large population of Latina immigrants do not qualify for publicly funded insurance programs like Medicaid even if in the U.S. legally, and some have language barriers that make access and health literacy a greater challenge.
This report highlights the need for policy-makers to look beyond national statistics to the state level in order to gain a better understanding of where challenges are the greatest or different, and to determine how to shape policies that can ultimately eliminate racial and ethnic disparities.
For more information, the report can be found here.
by Ivette Sanchez, Policy and Advocacy Intern