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NEW ANALYSIS REVEALS WIDE DISPARITIES IN HEALTH COVERAGE AMONG ASIAN AMERICANS, NATIVE HAWAIIANS AND PACIFIC ISLANDERS, WITH UNINSURED RATES FOR SOME SUBGROUPS AMONG THE HIGHEST IN THE UNITED STATES

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

For further information contact:
Kirran Syed, Kaiser Family Foundation, ksyed@kff.org or (202) 347-5270
Deeana Jang, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, djang@apiahf.org or (202) 466-7772 x223

NEW ANALYSIS REVEALS WIDE DISPARITIES IN HEALTH COVERAGE AMONG ASIAN AMERICANS, NATIVE HAWAIIANS AND PACIFIC ISLANDERS, WITH UNINSURED RATES FOR SOME SUBGROUPS AMONG THE HIGHEST IN THE UNITED STATES

Breaking Down Data by Ethnicity Shows Korean Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders Are About Twice As Likely To Be Uninsured As Whites

Going beyond national studies that often treat Asian Americans as a homogenous and relatively healthy group, a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum finds that certain subgroups of the nation’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations are doing much worse than other subgroups in terms of health insurance coverage and access to health care.

Using data from two major government annual surveys, this analysis reveals substantial differences in the health care experiences of about a dozen subgroups of the nation’s estimated 13 million Asian Americans and more than half million Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. For example, the analysis finds that Korean Americans and Vietnamese Americans face greater challenges than Asian Indian Americans and Japanese Americans for some key health measures. Other findings include:

• The proportion of nonelderly who are uninsured varies widely, ranging from 31 percent of Koreans, 24 percent of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, and 21 percent of Vietnamese to 12 percent of Japanese and Asian Indians and 14 percent of Filipinos. In comparison, 12 percent of nonelderly non-Hispanic Whites are uninsured.

• Nonelderly Koreans are the subgroup least likely to have employer-sponsored health coverage (49 percent), while Asian Indians have the highest rate of employer-sponsored coverage (77 percent).

• Vietnamese adults are twice as likely to report being in fair or poor health (15 percent) as the healthiest subgroup, Japanese adults (8 percent).

Some of this variation in health coverage may be due to how recently certain groups arrived in the United States, where they live geographically, the size of the firm where they work and income.

“It’s reasonably well known that African Americans and Latinos are much more likely to be uninsured than Whites, but I bet the public would be quite surprised to learn that certain Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander groups also have such high uninsured levels. For this reason, these groups have a big stake in health reform debates,” said Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew E. Altman, Ph.D.

“As policymakers and health leaders consider how best to cover America’s uninsured and underinsured, this analysis is a timely reminder of the diverse health experiences and challenges within Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations that need to be carefully assessed to assure these communities’ needs are taken into account in the deliberations and development of any health care reform proposal,” added Ho Luong Tran, M.D., president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.

The analysis is based on data from the 2004, 2005 and 2006 National Health Interview Survey and Current Population Survey (CPS). CPS subgroups were generated based on the nativity of the individual and their parents.

Health Coverage and Access to Care for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders” is available online.

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The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit, private operating foundation dedicated to providing information and analysis on health care issues to policymakers, the media, the health care community, and the general public. The Foundation is not associated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries.