COVID-19 Pandemic Disproportionately Impacting Access to Health Care for Asian Americans

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April 15, 2021

National survey finds alarming rates of insurance coverage loss and denial of care among Asian Americans.

Amidst the rise in hate and violence against Asian Americans during the pandemic, a new analysis by CareQuest Institute for Oral Health reveals that the COVID-19 public health crisis has disproportionately impacted health access and increased health disparities among Asian Americans.

Researchers analyzed results from CareQuest Institute’s nationwide survey of more than 5,000 households conducted earlier this year on consumer and patient attitudes, experiences, and behaviors related to health and oral health. Of the 5.4 million people who reported losing their health insurance due to the pandemic, 12% were Asian American. This is a significantly disproportionate impact when compared to the percent of the total population identifying as Asian American (5%). In fact, Asian Americans were three times more likely to have experienced this loss of coverage compared to their white peers. This disproportionate impact is similarly reflected in the numbers of people who lost dental insurance with nearly 10% of the 6 million people who lost dental coverage identifying as Asian American.

Additionally, Asian Americans were the second most likely group to report being denied health care or dental care due to discrimination (15%). The discrimination experienced by Asian communities has also translated to a negative impact on health care access as a result of the pandemic.  

“These findings are yet another example of how the pandemic is disproportionately impacting communities of color in unconscionable ways,” said Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, president and CEO of CareQuest Institute for Oral Health. “These findings are most alarming because people who identify as Asian have historically experienced some of the lowest uninsured rates of any group in the US. We are experiencing a racial reckoning on multiple fronts in this country and we need to ensure that we continue to face systemic racism head on — including its many manifestations in health care.”  

Researchers also found that those who have experienced loss of insurance coverage or denial of care will likely see their overall health impacted by these disparities:

  • Among those who cited COVID-19 as the reason for losing dental insurance, 65% reported having an oral health symptom that often stems from a disease affecting teeth, gums, or other tissues in the oral cavity.
  • Many others have cancelled or put off important preventive care in the last year – 28 million adults, have delayed care because of concerns ranging from cost and lack of insurance to risk of exposure to the virus. 

Survey methodology
State of Oral Health Equity in America 2021 is a nationally representative survey of consumer and patient attitudes, experiences, and behaviors on oral health. Survey data was collected in January and February 2021 on adults 18 and older by NORC at the University of Chicago on the AmeriSpeak panel. Amerispeak is a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the US household population. Randomly selected US households were sampled using area probability and address-based sampling, with a known, non-zero probability of selection from NORC National Sample Frame. Sampled households were contacted by US mail, telephone, and field interviewers. A sampling unit of 16,986 was used with a final sample size of 5,320, with a final weighted cumulative response rate of 5.2%. All data presented account for appropriate sample weights. The margin of error in the survey is 1.86%.

About the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health
CareQuest Institute for Oral Health is a nonprofit committed to building a future in which equitable systems promote excellent health, allowing every person to reach their full potential. We partner with thought leaders, health care providers, patients, and local, state, and federal stakeholders to champion oral health care transformation, because good overall health depends on good oral health. Through innovative ideas that ignite meaningful change, we create a more integrated, accessible, and equitable oral health care system. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

Direct Media Inquiries to:
Kristin LaRoche

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