The Health and Health Status of Older Korean Americans at the 100-Year Anniversary of Korean Immigration
Author: Linda Sohn
Source: Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, Volume 19, Number 3, September 2004 , pp. 203-219(17)
Abstract:There are 28 subgroups in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) ethnic population. They accounted for 12.5 million persons in the year 2002 or 4.4% of the non-institutionalized US population (Reeves&Bennett, 2003). It is a rapidly growing population in the United States, particularly in Southern California. The Korean American population is the fifth largest ethnic group in the heterogeneous AAPI population. Despite their increasing numbers there lacks data regarding the health status and healthcare utilization of the AAPI population. The aim of this study is to characterize the health status and healthcare utilization of an Asian American ethnic group, the Korean Americans. The data are from the 2000 Korean American Health Survey (KAHS). This survey of 1,660 Korean Americans living in Los Angeles County assessed their health status and medical needs and composed the largest sample recruited for a health study on Korean Americans to date. For the study 208 Koreans Americans aged 65 and over were reported. Descriptive statistics were performed to illustrate the health status and needs of the Korean American older persons. Over one-half of the sample, 69% of the Korean American older persons in the study reported a fair or poor health status. This is in stark contrast to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, which found that 17% of the minorities and 30% of the Korean Americans rated their health as fair or poor (Commonwealth Fund, 2002). With regards to access to healthcare 21% of the Korean American older adults in the sample lacked health insurance and 31% had never visited a medical doctor within the last 12 months for a check up or consultation. It is felt that an individual's chance of being uninsured varies across the life span and that people 65 years and older have a minimal likelihood of being uninsured due to Medicare (IOM, 2001). However when looking at certain subgroups higher percentages of uninsured are revealed. One out of every three Koreans Americans in the US is uninsured compared to 21% of all AAPI and 14% non-Latino whites. In California the proportion is even higher with almost half of all Koreans being uninsured (Brown et al. 2001). This type of discrepancy compounds the Model Minority Myth that AAPI population is a successful minority group and do not have barriers to health care (Chen et al. 1995). One study examining health services research status in the AAPI found that Korean Americans were one of the most understudied populations relative to their size (Andersen et al. 1995). Since the AAPI population and subgroups are often not included in health services research this results in myths or inaccuracies regarding their health. Studies of AAPI populations are needed to provide information regarding the health of the population, educate health care providers to assist them in the care of ethnic populations and seek interventions to remove health disparities in minority populations.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2004-09-01