African American and Hispanic Missourians trail behind whites when it comes to health indicators. The nonprofit Missouri Foundation for Health published reports Tuesday on the health disparities of the two minority groups.
The disparities can be pretty stark, for example: infant deaths occur more than twice as many times among blacks than whites. And even though the Hispanic population in Missouri is generally younger than blacks and whites, they have a higher rate of cholesterol.
Missouri Foundation for Health’s policy associate Akeiisa Coleman spent a couple of months working on the reports, based on data collected by the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services. Coleman says the fact that African Americans and Hispanic Missourians are more likely to be uninsured than whites plays a big part in the disparities.
“One of my takeaways from the report is that it’s really important that we work on improving access to care,” Coleman said. “And one of the big barriers for people regularly getting primary care services is not having health insurance and not being able to pay for those services.”
The health disparities revealed in the report also highlight the socioeconomic disparities among minorities in Missouri.
“People's ability to pay, their education level, how their income level affects their transportation options, their flexibility of their time in terms of being able to go to doctor appointments, or having people available for child care, those are really significant barriers [to better health outcomes],” Coleman said.
Health care providers, patient advocates and government employees gathered in Columbia Tuesday to discuss the reports, at a forum hosted by the foundation and the Missouri Health Equity Collaborative.