Myths obscure lack of health care for some Asians

A focus on “ethnic disparities” can obscure the fact that racial designations are so broad that the disparities within them are just as great as those without.

The latest example? The paper “Barriers to healthcare among Asian Americans,” [press release] by two SUNY Buffalo sociologists. The paper takes on the myth that Asian-Americans are a well-adjusted, monolithic “model minority,” particularly when it comes to access to health care. Instead, language, health literacy, health insurance and immigrant status all conspire to push certain groups of Asian-Americans well below the national average.

Tapped’s Jamelle Bouie discusses the post, then adds a demographic summary to point out how Asian-American economic status can vary based on country of origin.

While Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Americans tend to do well when compared to their white counterparts, the same can’t be said of Vietnamese, Pacific Islanders, and Cambodians, as well as Hmong and Laotians. Among Vietnamese, for example, per capita income is $23,080 – compared with just over $30,000 for whites – with an overall poverty rate of 13.3 percent, compared to 10.5 percent for whites. Likewise, only 13.3 percent of Cambodians and a scant 9.3 percent of Laotians have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to nearly 30 percent of whites.

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