New report highlights key findings on the health, mental health, and social service needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in California

Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) are among the fastest growing ethnic groups in California and nationwide. In response to a wave of attacks on AANHPIs, California passed an API Equity Budget in 2021 that included a three-year investment of more than $166 million to serve communities experiencing hate and barriers to various government services.

Part of this historic investment was a $10 million award for AAPI Data, to conduct demographic and policy research to better serve the AANHPI communities.

Today, AAPI Data, in partnership with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, released a groundbreaking study highlighting disparities in access to, and utilization of, health, mental health, and social services by Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.

“California has established a strong commitment to ensuring racial equality in the delivery of public services, and this report is an important first step in improving public understanding of the needs, barriers, and challenges facing Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities,” said Karthik Ramakrishnan, founder of AAPI Data, Professor of Policy. General at UC Riverside and Director of the UCR Center for Social Innovation “We hope that policy makers as well as those responsible for policy implementation will use the findings and recommendations in this report to better serve the AANHPI communities in California.”

The report also benefited from input from the California Commission on American Asia Pacific Affairs, several other government agencies, and several nonprofit organizations serving AANHPI communities including the AAPI Equity Alliance, CAA, Center for Enabling Policy, Pacific Island Communities Empowerment, Girls Khmer. In Action, SEARAC, and the AAPI Stop Hate Alliance.

This Health, Mental Health, and Social Services Needs Report uses currently available data to measure the current health, mental health, and social services needs of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and California Pacific Islanders. The report uses data collected from the University of California Center for Health Policy Research in the 2019 and 2020 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and the 2016-2020 American Community Survey (ACS) for the Census Bureau.

In the report, the team found that the shortage of physicians in the Inland Empire appears in the California Health Interview Survey in the lowest percentage of people who were able to get medical appointments on time. Asians were disproportionately affected by the deficiency, compared to the same statewide measures listed above. Asians in the Inner Empire were much less likely to get a date in time than blacks, Latinos, and whites of the Inner Empire.

The data showed that 62% of Asians in the Inland Empire were able to get an appointment in time (defined as within two days). In California’s other five regions, 83% or more of Asians were able to get a timely appointment. Within the Inland Empire, 72% of non-Hispanic blacks managed to get a date in time, which was the second lowest among the major racial groups.

Other findings in the report were demographic in nature. For example, Filipino Americans were the largest Asian group in the Inland Empire and Samoa and Chamorro were the two largest NHPI groups in the Inland Empire. Chinese and Filipino Americans had the largest proportion of Asian children in the Inland Empire.

Some of the main findings of the report include:
  • Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders were less likely to attend public programs such as CalFresh, Medicare, and Medi-Cal than other racial and ethnic groups. Joining detailed groups from Asia, indigenous Hawaiians, and Pacific islands showed wider variation, including much larger gaps between groups such as Indians, Japanese, and Taiwanese.
  • Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders were less likely than whites to have a usual source of care, had visited a doctor in the past 12 months, and were able to make an appointment with a doctor in a timely manner.
  • While Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities reported the lowest rates of suicidal ideation overall, disaggregated data reveal that Japanese, Koreans, and U.S.-born Americans are more likely to have said they have contemplated suicide.

The report also identifies several recommendations for action to address equity in health and social services for Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Some recommendations include:
  • Invest in central participation of limited, culturally competent mental health resources and capacity expansion.
  • Support families and caregivers with language support to cope with the financial, physical and mental difficulties associated with providing care.
  • Improving awareness and access to public and government programs to address underutilization.

Beth Tamaeus, Director of Research at the University of California’s Center for Social Innovation, Howard Shih, Managing Director of AAPI Data, and Ryan Finh, Data and Community Partnerships for AAPI Data contributed to this report.

Read the full press release and more key findings and recommendations: University of California Center for Health Policy Research.


Title image: GettyImages

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