Health Disparities Affect Low-Wage Workers
Service and agricultural workers, who comprise 20% of the Central Coast's workforce, are the lowest paid, least healthy and least likely to have health insurance in the region, according to a recent study, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports. For the study, by the health consulting firm Diringer and Associates, researchers analyzed data from a variety of studies conducted over the past five years.
One in five employees in the region is a low-income service worker -- about twice the statewide percentage -- and nearly half are Latino, according to the study.
Researchers found that in the region stretching from Ventura to Monterey counties:
- One-third of the low-income population is uninsured, compared with 17% of the general population;
- 70% of farmworkers are uninsured;
- 27% of low-income workers have not seen a doctor in the past year, compared to 22% of the general population;
- 30% of male farmworkers have never been to a doctor;
- Farmworkers are 60% more likely than the general population to have high blood pressure;
- Low-income and Latino seniors are less likely than the overall senior population to have preventive health screenings; and
- Immigrants who come to the U.S. often arrive healthy but develop poor nutrition and exercise habits.
The study recommends hiring more bilingual health care providers, interpreters and translators to help provide services to an increasing number of residents with limited or no English language skills. Clinics could extend their hours or add more Spanish-speaking staff, researchers suggest.
Researchers also recommend that government officials focus on disease-prevention programs for immigrant, low-income and senior families. In addition, schools and employers should promote healthful eating habits and physical activity, according to researchers (Welton, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 5/24).
The study is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.