Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) are among the fastest growing racial groups in California and nationwide. In response to a wave of attacks on AANHPIs, California passed the API Equity Budget in 2021 that included a three-year investment of over $166 million to better serve communities experiencing hate and barriers to various government services.
Part of that historic investment was a $10 million award to AAPI Data, to conduct demographic and policy research to better serve AANHPI communities.
Today, AAPI Data, in partnership with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, released a groundbreaking study that highlights disparities in the access and utilization of health, mental health and social services by Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.
“California has established a strong commitment to ensuring racial equity in the provision of public services, and this report is an important first step in improving public understanding of the needs, barriers, and challenges that Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities face,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder of AAPI Data, professor of public policy at UC Riverside and director for UCR’s Center for Social Innovation. “We hope that policy makers as well as those in charge of policy implementation will use the findings and recommendations in this report to better serve AANHPI communities in California.”
The report also benefited from the input of the California Commission on Asian & Pacific Islander American Affairs, various other state agencies, and several nonprofit organizations serving AANHPI communities including AAPI Equity Alliance, CAA, Center for Empowered Politics, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, Khmer Girls in Action, SEARAC, and the Stop AAPI Hate Coalition.
This health, mental health, and social service needs report uses currently available data to benchmark the current health, mental health and social service needs for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in California. The report uses pooled data from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research’s 2019 and 2020 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and the Census Bureau’s 2016–2020 American Community Survey (ACS).
In the report the team found that the shortage of physicians in the Inland Empire shows up in the California Health Interview Survey in the lower percentage of people who were able to get timely medical appointments. Asians have been disproportionately impacted by the shortage, compared to the same measures at the statewide level cited above. Asians in the Inland Empire also were much less likely to get a timely appointment than Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites in the Inland Empire.
The data showed that 62% of Asians in the Inland Empire were able to get an appointment in a timely way (defined as within 2 days). In the other five regions of California, 83% or more of Asians were able to get an appointment in a timely way. Within the Inland Empire, 72% of non-Hispanic Blacks were able to get an appointment in a timely way, which was the next lowest rate among the major race and ethnic groups.
Other findings in the report were demographic in nature. For example, Filipino Americans were the largest Asian group in the Inland Empire and Samoans and Chamorros were the two largest NHPI groups in the Inland Empire. Chinese and Filipino Americans were the largest share of the Asian child population in the Inland Empire.
Some of the report’s key findings include:
- Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders were slightly less likely to be enrolled in public programs such as CalFresh, Medicare and Medi-Cal compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Enrollment among detailed Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander groups showed wider variation, including much larger gaps among 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, have visited a doctor in the last 12 months, and be able to schedule a doctor’s appointment in a timely manner.
- While Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities reported the lowest rates of suicide ideation overall, disaggregated data reveal Japanese, Korean and U.S.-born Asians are more likely to have said they had ever thought of committing suicide.
The report also outlines several recommendations for action to address equity in health and social services for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.
Some of the recommendations include:
- Investing in centralized sharing of limited culturally competent mental health resources and expanding capacity.
- Supporting families and caregivers with in-language support to address financial, physical and mental hardships associated with caregiving.
- Improve awareness and access to public and government programs to address underutilization.
Beth Tamayose, research director with UCR’s Center for Social Innovation, Howard Shih, managing director at AAPI Data, and Ryan Vinh, data and community partnerships specials with AAPI Data, also contributed to this report.
Header photo: GettyImages