Published Date: June 03, 2024

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. 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. This report 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. This study uses 2021 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data.

Findings: 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.

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