(LOUISVILLE, Ky - August 30, 2016) Multiracial and black Kentuckians tend to report higher rates of smoking, obesity, asthma and poor mental health than their white counterparts, according to a new report released today by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The report also found that black and Hispanic Kentuckians are less likely to have health insurance than white Kentuckians.

Despite their lower insurance access, Hispanic Kentuckians are less likely than white Kentuckians to report poor physical health or a diabetes diagnosis, although they are significantly more likely to forgo medical care due to cost.

Health Disparities in the Commonwealth, A Report on Race and Ethnicity and Health in Kentucky, looks at access to health care and preventive services, a variety of social and behavioral health indicators, and health outcomes across Kentucky adults of different racial and ethnic groups (white, non-Hispanic; black, non-Hispanic; multiracial, non-Hispanic; Hispanic of any race; and other, non-Hispanic).

"This report helps us see how race and ethnicity make a difference in how healthy you are, just as previous Foundation reports have shown that where you live and your education and income levels affect your health status," said Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Foundation. "It offers an important window on health status and insurance access prior to implementation of Medicaid expansion in Kentucky. Understanding these disparities is an important step in enacting the policy changes and programs that can reduce and ultimately eliminate them."

Additional health disparities across race and ethnicity captured in the report:

  • White Kentuckians are more likely to have a personal doctor, less likely to forgo medical care due to cost, and significantly less likely to have been screened for HIV (recommended for everyone by the Centers for Disease Control) than other racial or ethnic groups.
  • Black Kentuckians are more likely to be overweight or obese and less likely to get an annual flu shot.
  • Multiracial Kentuckians are the most likely group to experience activity limitations due to health problems and more likely than white Kentuckians to be smokers.
  • While most Kentuckians report poorer health status than average U.S. adults, Hispanic Kentuckians are about as likely as other Americans to report fair or poor health. That said, Hispanics report getting more physical activity than either the average Kentuckian or the average American.
    In a couple of areas, Kentuckians overall report better health behaviors than the national average:
  • 80 percent of Kentuckians overall (white, 81.5 percent; black, 72.8 percent; multiracial, 71.4 percent; other, 64.8 percent; Hispanic, 62.4 percent) are likely to have a personal doctor (national average: 77.4 percent).
  • Kentuckians are less likely to engage in binge drinking (overall, 14.8 percent; white and black, 14.7 percent; other, 15.0 percent; multiracial, 19.4 percent; Hispanic, 17.7 percent) than American adults overall (17.2 percent).
    Still, Kentuckians report health challenges more often than the nation as a whole:
  • 66.9 percent of all Kentuckians are overweight or obese (national rate: 63.5 percent).
  • 27.9 percent of Kentuckians smoke (national: 19 percent)
  • 29.7 percent of Kentuckians report getting no physical activity (national: 25.2 percent.

Health Disparities in the Commonwealth, A Report on Race and Ethnicity and Health in Kentucky, was written by Rachelle Seger of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, and Huong Luu, MD, MPH, and W. Jay Christian, PhD, MPH, of the University of Kentucky. It was funded by a grant from the Foundation. The report is based on Kentucky Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data from 2011 through 2013.

A copy the report is available here; it follows two other reports addressing health disparities across socioeconomic factors (Money Matters) and across the Appalachia and Delta regions of Kentucky (Place Matters). The report is based on 2011 - 2013 data.

About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $26 million in health policy research, advocacy and pilot project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the Foundation is to address the unmet health care needs of Kentuckians by informing and influencing health policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter and on Facebook, or visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.