Publications / 2021 Edition — Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity in California

2021 Edition — Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity in California

Pattern of Inequity

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All Californians should have access to the high-quality health care they need to lead long and healthy lives. Achieving this requires reducing disparities in health care and the social determinants of health that affect historically excluded or marginalized groups.1 Disparities occur across many demographic categories, including race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, place of residence, gender, disability status, language, and sexual orientation.

As one of the most racially diverse states in the nation, California has a critical responsibility to address health disparities experienced by people of color. Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity in California: Pattern of Inequity shows that people of color face barriers in accessing health care, often receive suboptimal treatment, and are most likely to experience poor outcomes in the health care system.

Key findings include:

  • Life expectancy at birth in California was 81.0 years. Black Californians had the shortest life expectancy at 75.1 years, and the Asian population had the highest life expectancy at 86.3 years.
  • Latinx Californians were more likely to have incomes below the federal poverty level and to report being uninsured. About one in five Latinx Californians reported not having a usual source of care and experiencing difficulty finding a specialist.
  • The Black population in California experienced the highest death rates from breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer among all racial and ethnic groups.
  • Black Californians experienced the highest rates of prenatal and postpartum depressive symptoms; low-risk; first-birth cesareans; preterm births; low-birthweight births; infant mortality; and maternal mortality.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on some racial and ethnic groups in California. The COVID-19 vaccine has not been equitably administered across the state by race/ethnicity to date.


CHCF Health Care Almanac: Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity in California.

Health Disparities in Medi-Cal Managed Care

A one-page quick reference guide provides a look at Medi-Cal managed care enrollment and quality of care by race/ethnicity.

The full report, the data file, all the charts in the report, and the quick reference guide are available for download below. These materials are part of CHCF’s California Health Care Almanac, an online clearinghouse for key data and analyses describing the state’s health care landscape. See our entire collection of current and past editions of Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity in California.


  1. Paula Braveman et al., What Is Health Equity? And What Difference Does a Definition Make?, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, May 2017.

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