Disparate health outcomes for minorities, individuals experiencing homelessness, and other subsets of California’s population are the result of historic and systemic inequalities that persist today, and it has risen to the level of a public health crisis in California. Unequal access to health care and health resources, as well as unequal and damaging environmental conditions due to race, socioeconomic status, and other factors is untenable in a just and healthy society. Ensuring every Californian receives equitable, high-quality care requires long-term, systemic solutions. Some facts*:
- Black Californians have the highest rates of new prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer cases, and the highest death rates for breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer.
- About one in five Latinx Californians report not having a usual source of care and difficulty finding a specialist.
- Californians who are Native American and Alaska Native, as well as Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, are less likely to report having a checkup within the past year than other racial/ethnic groups.
*Source: California Health Care Foundation
California’s hospitals are on the front lines of mitigating health inequities. Within their communities, hospitals examine and address the social determinants of health — things like housing instability, access to healthy foods, and community violence — that significantly affect health risks and outcomes. And they continually work to improve the experience and outcomes for everyone in their care through a variety of initiatives, including a statewide maternal health quality collaborative; data collection and analysis on race, ethnicity, language preference, and other sociodemographic data; cultural competency training; increasing diversity in leadership and governance; and improving and strengthening community partnerships. But hospitals alone cannot eliminate health disparities. It will take systemic reform, paired with broad partnerships across all segments of California’s communities, to break from the status quo.