Health Disparities

Promoting Health Equity is a strategy that more and more health plans are embracing. This means that individuals receive the same treatment and have similar outcomes, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. We know that health disparities, the flip side of health equity, are a contributor to health care costs experienced by individuals, communities and businesses. Cambia has embarked on a plan to address the health disparities within our membership, including furthering cultural competency.

Culturally Sensitive Care

When health care providers see the world through their patients' eyes, it makes a huge difference in quality of care.

by Jeanne Faulkner

Imagine traveling in a foreign country. You don't speak the language or know anyone. Suddenly, you have horrible abdominal pain, fever and you're plunged into a foreign health care system. With no interpreter, you don't understand what doctors are asking you, whether or not they know what they're doing or even how much it will cost.

That's what it's like for immigrants, non-English-speaking patients, some minorities and members of certain subcultures. Sick, confused, frustrated and frightened, they don't know what to expect or how they'll be treated. Their health depends on the kindness of strangers.

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Focus on Health Equity: African-Americans at Risk

Learn about the health challenges facing African-Americans and some ways those hurdles can be overcome.

by Jeanne Faulkner

Lexi Holt, 23, works in a Portland, Ore., athletic club and is studying politics in college. She appears to be the picture of physical fitness, but it wasn't always that way. Obese as a teen, she was on her way to becoming a casualty of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"Diabetes runs through my mother's side, like in many African-American families," Holt says. "My uncle is a judge and was recently hospitalized at age 65 with [an] aortic aneurysm. This happens a lot in our communities. I didn't take notice until my dad got in shape that it could happen to me, too." Holt started exercising every morning before school. She lost and kept off 80 pounds. She knows her bright future depends on maintaining her healthy lifestyle--and realizes that the odds are stacked against her.

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Focus on Health Equity: Latinos at Risk

Learn about the health challenges facing Hispanics and some ways they can be overcome.

by Jeanne Faulkner

Irma was 19 when she and her younger brother, Alex, came from Mexico to the United States. Their childhood was spent in a small town with no doctor. The nearest hospital was miles away, so their grandmother often administered home remedies when they'd get sick.

After moving to the U.S., Irma and Alex both settled in Fresno, Calif. Although they'd had limited health care in their early years in Mexico, and Alex currently does not have health insurance, both are relatively healthy.

"Now that I'm here in the U.S., I get pretty bad allergies, but that's all," says Irma.

"Our parents are very healthy," Alex adds. "We visit them every year, and they're getting pretty old but still going strong. My two kids, though—they don't get enough exercise, and they're getting a little overweight."

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Focus on Health Equity: Native Americans at Risk

Learn about the health challenges facing Native Americans and some ways they can be overcome.

by Jeanne Faulkner

Tafv, a healthy, model-thin college student, doesn't look like women on her father's Creek Indian side of the family. Tafv explains: "In photos of them at my age, they're tall and lean like me. Now, they're older, obese and you wouldn't know they're the same people."

Tafv knows firsthand the health concerns many American Indians share, but she identifies more strongly with her mother's Caucasian health history. Tafv says, "There's a long-running history of substance abuse and diabetes on my Creek side, but judging from what I see, the bigger issues are that people live in poor conditions and have no clue how to take care of themselves. They eat fast food every night."

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Focus on Health Equity: Asian-Americans at Risk

Learn about the health challenges facing Asian-Americans and some ways they can be overcome.

by Jeanne Faulkner

Faye is slim, healthy and looks a decade younger than her stated "fiftysomething" years. "I'm American with Chinese ethnicity. I'm healthy, and my only concerns are the same as all women my age—osteoporosis and diabetes."

Born in Vietnam, Van, 32, moved to Seattle as a child. He is concerned about genetic predisposition to certain diseases. "Hepatitis and lung cancer are my family's legacy." he says.

Mizuki, 65, worries about the unhealthy diet of her Japanese-American grandchildren. "My daughter serves American food and, well, they're too fat."

Faye, Van and Mizuki represent a few of the more than 50 Asian cultures and 15.2 million Asian Americans who make up 5 percent of the US population. While generally healthier than other American ethnicities, they have their own culturally specific health concerns.

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