Accessing health care, including mental health services, became much tougher for California’s Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published today by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and colleagues at UC Riverside.

Those obstacles, the report reveals, were closely tied to other pandemic-related difficulties affecting the AANHPI community, including growing economic hardship and a lack of access to quality affordable housing, food and education. The findings are drawn from data in UCLA’s California Health Interview Surveys for 2018 through 2021, as well as American Community Surveys from 2019 and 2021.

“After studying the emotional and economic impacts brought on by the pandemic over the last three years, it’s clear there is a significant burden on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities in California,” said Ninez Ponce, director of the health policy resesarch center and principal investigator of the California Health Interview Survey. “These findings suggest an urgent need to address the gaps in access to health care, which have gotten perpetually worse as the pandemic continues to take a toll on this community.”

Among the key findings:

  • About 3 in 10 AANHPI people reported difficulties in accessing health services.
  • About 1 in 4 experienced difficulties in accessing mental health services.
  • 7 in 10 AANHPI said financial concerns were the primary barrier to accessing health services.
  • More than half of AANHPI respondents said they had trouble accessing quality affordable housing; and more than one-third said they had difficulty accessing quality affordable food.

The report also includes findings about Asian American residents’ experiences with incidents of hate and discrimination. About one-quarter said they had ever been a victim of a hate crime or incident in their lifetime, and about 20% said they worried all the time or often about being a victim.

Read the full news release on the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research website.