Latinos in Contra Costa County Seek Health Care Less Frequently Than Other Ethnic Groups, Study Finds
Although Latinos in Contra Costa County are "healthier than those in California as a whole," they have higher rates of uninsurance and are less likely to use public medical services than other groups, according to a new study released today by the not-for-profit Latino Leadership Council of Contra Costa. The Contra Costa Times reports that Latinos, who last year made up 18% of the county's population and are the county's "fastest growing ethnic group," overall had lower hospitalization and incidence rates compared to Latinos statewide and had lower rates of lung and breast cancer, HIV/AIDS and heart disease compared to whites and blacks in the county. However, Latinos in the county had higher or "comparable" rates of diabetes and asthma compared to whites and blacks. According to Mary Rosas, vice chair of the leadership council, the relative good health of the Latino population in Contra Costa is due primarily to the large number of recent immigrants, who tend to be "younger and healthier than the state's overall population."
Still, the Times reports that in 1990, 20% of Latinos earned incomes below the federal poverty level, and "more were uninsured than members of any other group." With the report noting, for example, that Latinos are less likely to seek public mental health treatment than other groups, Rosas said that county health officials "should make a bigger push to send more public health services into ... low-income neighborhoods and to tackle specific physical and mental illnesses." She added that the health advantages of youth will diminish over time. Saying that the Latino population in Contra Costa County is still "fresh and energetic," Rosas concluded, "We knew all this was happening because we don't have enough culturally competent outreach, and where there are services, the Latino community is not accessing them" (Chang, Contra Costa Times, 5/8).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.