MINORITY HEALTH: Asian Men Less Likely to Visit Doctors
Low rates of health insurance coverage combined with infrequent doctor visits make Asian-American men "particularly vulnerable" to health problems, the Los Angeles Times reports. To understand "the complex set of factors" affecting the health of Asian men, a recent survey conducted by the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance found that lack of health insurance and language difficulties are the two largest barriers to health care among the group. Of the 440 men surveyed since January, only one in 10 participants over age 30 had undergone a prostate examination in the past year, despite the fact that older Asian men are more likely to die of cancer than heart disease. Most of those surveyed were visitors to the Asian Health Center, a low-cost clinic that serves many uninsured, leading survey organizers to speculate that the results might be "skewed." Still, the survey's preliminary findings show that Asian men "stand out for their absence" among clinic patients, accounting for only 30% of the clinic's 3,000 visitors. Linn Cook, alliance program manager, said that health insurance is a "foreign concept" for many Asian immigrants. According to UCLA's Center for Health Policy Research, 24% of Asian/Pacific Islander (API) adult men in California are uninsured -- a rate lower than Latinos (48%) and African Americans (28%), but higher than that of whites (17%). However, some researchers argue that the uninsured API population is "undercounted" because many surveys are not conducted in Asian languages. In addition, some alliance members see cultural differences as a "definite barrier" to Asian men's "positive health behavior." Jason Lacsamana, program coordinator for the alliance, said, "In Asian culture, the man is supposed to be stoic ... weakness is not an option." The various barriers to health care faced by Asian men may put them at greater risk for diseases such as prostate cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer in men. Experts speculate that Asian women are more likely to get health care than their male counterparts, in part due to a growing awareness and funding of women's health issues (Yi, 9/18).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.