CALIFORNIA LATINOS: CDC Study Finds Disparities in Health Measures
California Latinos are more likely than Latinos in most other states to lack health insurance and consider themselves in "fair to poor health," according to a new CDC study of health behaviors (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 3/24). Based on 1997 telephone interviews with 134,000 people, the survey contains data on 20 health-related measures that cover access to care, health status, risk behaviors and preventive screenings, broken down by race and ethnicity for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (AP/New York Times, 3/24). The study found that 19% of all Californians lacked coverage, well above the national median of 12%. For Latinos, the "gap in coverage was even wider," with 39% uninsured in California, compared with 23% uninsured nationally. In addition, 26% of California Latino adults considered themselves in "fair to poor health," compared with the national median among Latinos of 16%. Among whites, African Americans and Asian Americans, Californians were less likely than their national counterparts to say they were in fair to poor health. For white Californians, 10% considered themselves in "fair to poor health," compared with 12% nationally; 18% of African-American Californians ranked themselves in that category, compared with 19% nationally; and 8% of Asian Californians said the same, slightly below the 9% national median. The study also found that aside from African Americans, Californians were less likely to be cigarette smokers. And with the exception of Latinos, Californians were "less likely to be obese and more likely to exercise in their leisure time." Although many states lacked an Asian American population large enough to allow for comparison, those in California "were more likely to have health insurance and less likely to say that they were in poor health than Asian Americans nationally." Lead author Julie Bolen said of the study findings, "This is a tool for states to see how they compare nationally. Fortunately, most of the issues we talk about in this report relate to behaviors that can be changed" (Los Angeles Times, 3/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.