Key Facts on Health and Health Care by Race and Ethnicity
Section 3: Health Status and Outcomes
Blacks and American Indians and Alaska Natives fare worse than Whites on the majority of examined measures of health status and health outcomes (Exhibit 3.1 and Appendix Table 2). Findings for Hispanics are more mixed, with them faring better than Whites on some measures and worse on others. As a broad group, Asians fare better than Whites across nearly all examined measures. However, as noted earlier, this finding masks underlying differences between subgroups of Asians. For example, other research suggests that some subgroups of Asians fare very poorly along measures of health status and outcomes.1
Self-Reported Health Status. These broad patterns across racial and ethnic groups generally hold true for measures of self-reported health status among nonelderly adults, with Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians and Alaska Natives reporting worse health status than Whites (Exhibit 3.2). American Indians and Alaska Natives also are more likely to report a physical limitation compared to Whites.
Physically and mentally unhealthy days. Consistent with these patterns, Black and American Indian and Alaska Native nonelderly adults also are more likely than Whites to report 14 or more physically or mentally unhealthy days in the past 30 days (Exhibit 3.3).
Smoking and obesity rates. Similar patterns also are observed for smoking and obesity rates. Among nonelderly adults, American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely than Whites to smoke, and Hispanics, Blacks, and American Indians and Alaska Natives all have higher obesity rates than Whites (Exhibit 3.4).
Obesity Rates among Children. Hispanic and Black children also are more likely to be obese than White children (Exhibit 3.5).
Alcohol and Illicit Drug Dependence or Abuse. American Indians and Alaska Natives in particular are more likely to report alcohol or illicit drug dependence or abuse compared to Whites. (Exhibit 3.6).
Chronic Conditions. Disparities for Blacks and American Indians and Alaska Natives also are seen in the prevalence of chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (Exhibit 3.7).
Asthma among Children. Black children also are more likely than White children to have asthma (Exhibit 3.8).
HIV/AIDS Diagnoses and Deaths. Disparities in rates of HIV/AIDS diagnoses and deaths for Blacks and Hispanics are particularly striking (Exhibit 3.9). HIV and AIDS diagnoses rates among Blacks between ages 13-64 are more than eight and ten times higher than that for Whites, respectively. Similarly, the death rate for individuals diagnosed with HIV is eight times higher for Blacks compared to Whites. Hispanics also face very large disparities along these measures.
Cancer Incidence. Rates of cancer incidence are lower for Asians/Pacific Islanders and American Indians and Alaska Natives compared to Whites (Exhibit 3.10). In contrast, Blacks generally have higher cancer incidence rates compared to Whites, although the differences are small. Statistically significant differences between Hispanics and Whites cannot be identified due to overlapping samples between these groups.
Birth Risks and Outcomes. Hispanics, Blacks, and American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to have pre-term births and births with a low birthweight compared to Whites. Blacks and American Indians and Alaska Natives also are more than twice as likely as Whites to have a birth that received late or no prenatal care (Exhibit 3.11).
Infant Mortality Rate. The infant mortality rate also is significantly higher for Blacks and American Indians and Alaska Natives compared to Whites (Exhibit 3.12).
Teen Birth Rate. In addition, the teen birth rate among Hispanics, Blacks, and American Indians and Alaska Natives is about twice as high as among Whites (Exhibit 3.13).
Deaths Attributed to Selected Chronic Diseases. Blacks have higher death rates due to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer compared to Whites (Exhibit 3.14). Hispanics also have a higher diabetes death rate than Whites, but lower heart disease and cancer death rates, while Asians have lower death rates attributed these conditions.