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Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity in California — 2024 Edition

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All Californians should have access to the high-quality health care needed to lead long and healthy lives. Achieving this requires reducing disparities in health care and the social drivers of health that affect historically excluded or marginalized groups.1 Disparities exists among many demographic categories, including race/ethnicity, economic 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: 2024 Edition 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 81.1 years. Black Californians had the shortest life expectancy at 74.6 years, while Asian Californians had the longest life expectancy at 85.7 years.
  • One in six Latino/x Californians reported being in fair or poor health. In 2021, 18% reported not having a usual source of care, and 15% delayed care. Of those who delayed care, 38% reported cost or lack of insurance as the reason for the delay. About one in 10 Latinos/x reported they were uninsured and more than one in four had incomes below the federal poverty level.
  • One in four Black respondents in the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) felt they could have received better care if they were a different race/ethnicity. In 2020, Black Californians had a higher percentage of preventable hospitalizations and Black adults had higher unplanned hospital readmission rates than those of other races/ethnicities.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native Californians had the highest death rates from breast, colorectal, and lung cancer. Black Californians experienced the highest death rates from cervical and prostate cancer.
  • In 2021, the percentage of Black infants who were born preterm (12.7%) or who had low birthweight (12.4%) was higher than those of other races/ethnicities.
  • Black mothers / birthing people* experienced the highest maternal mortality rate among all races/ethnicities between 2018 and 2020.

* “Birthing people” is used to recognize that not all people who become pregnant and give birth identify as women or mothers.

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.

Notes

  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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