Social & Economic Opportunity

Social &Economic Opportunity encompasses all of the elements within a community that generate opportunities for educational advancement, produce high-quality employment opportunities, and allow for the equitable distribution of wealth and resources, including access to health care and preventive programs and services.

Equitable Health Care Access

Equitable Health Care Access means that all individuals have access to affordable, high quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate care in a timely manner. This includes regular preventive care, in addition to emergency care, as well as mental health support.

Equitable Health Care Access & Latino Health

More than a quarter of Hispanic/Latino adults in the United States do not have a regular health care provider, meaning they don’t receive the critical preventive services and screening that support good health. Even when Latinos and other ethnic groups do have access to a provider, that provider may not be linguistically or culturally appropriate due to a striking lack of diversity in our healthcare workforce.


Oral Health: A Brighter Future, Through a Brighter Smile


When you think of what it means to be healthy, oral health may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Tooth decay, despite being the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States, is often overlooked. In addition to being the #1 chronic disease among children, dental caries, commonly referred to as cavities, disproportionally affect low-income communities of color. This disparity continues into adulthood as well, with non-Hispanic Black and Mexican American adults between 35 and 44 years old experiencing untreated tooth decay at almost twice the rate of non-Hispanic white adults. Much like the disparities in other aspects of health, oral health disparities have several root causes including access to affordable dental care, cultural barriers between providers and patients, shortage of culturally and linguistically appropriate providers, transportation issues, and aggressive marketing by unhealthy food and beverage companies that target vulnerable communities . At the population level, when individuals find it difficult to attain their full health potential, these disparities diminish health equity for entire communities.


Poor oral health also affects children’s ability to learn in school and develop socially. Severe pain associated with dental caries can interfere with a child’s ability to concentrate at school and interact with other children during crucial periods of their development. The longer a person goes without seeking care for a dental issue, the more they suffer elsewhere in their lives. Lack of treatment, then, amplifies the effects of easily preventable and treatable dental caries among adults and children. Consequently, poor oral health bleeds into other aspects of well-being forcing communities into a catch-22, where a lack of resources leads to tooth decay that ultimately limits a person’s advancement towards the resources necessary to prevent tooth decay to begin with.



This vicious cycle especially pertains to adults, whose unmet oral health needs interfere with their ability to work. As a result, individuals and families face income losses in addition to the discomfort and health issues associated with poor oral health. The difficult decision between earning wages or seeking dental care can be particularly difficult among low income families for whom wage loss of even a few hours can be detrimental. Avoiding dental care for financial security may inevitably have negative effects, however, as basic dental issues may worsen and result in the need for more intensive procedures. In this case, receiving necessary treatment is likely to have an even greater impact on an individual’s or family’s income. The sad irony in this situation is that the adults most vulnerable to oral health problems are those most hurt by seeking dental care.


The severity of oral health disparities in the Latino community and its subsequent impacts on the social and physical well-being of Latinos, illustrate the urgency of oral health reform among Latinos. The links between oral health and overall well-being make the potential impacts of oral health interventions far reaching and comprehensive. A major jump off point is informing individuals of how important oral health is, and ensuring access to dental care and disease prevention measures from an early age. Severe dental care provider shortages, and low reimbursement rates for services provided to Medicaid patients exacerbate the social and structural factors contributing to health disparities; however the significant improvements in oral health over the past 50 years show that prioritizing these types of initiatives can be successful.


While administrative barriers to oral care must be addressed, oral health disparities cannot be overcome without acknowledging the social and structural issues in our communities. The research up to this point is clear: Latinos are disproportionately affected by oral health issues that continue to go untreated. A crucial component in overcoming these disparities is the voice of the Latino community itself. The fact that this issue is only beginning to be addressed on a comprehensive, national scale indicates a large gap between the communities affected by oral health disparities and oral health reform that must be recognized. Interacting with individuals in the Latino community who fulfill various roles can provide an excellent perspective through which we can approach these issues.


As public health and oral health advocates work to improve policies designed to reduce inequity, we applaud their efforts to inform their policies and actions directly from the community. When we ask community members about barriers to oral health, we find that sometimes the answers are far removed from the dentists’ chairs and are much more pedantic. When one listens to those experiencing the greatest inequities, we find that lack of hope and personal efficacy, public transportation limitations or economic insecurity can be just as important as the availability of providers that accept lower-income patients. As we continue our work to advance equity in oral health, we will continue to work closely with our community partners to make sure that we are getting closer to oral health for all in a manner that works for all.




An Inside Look at Chronic Disease and Health Care among Hispanics in the United States

The health of the United States is closely tied to that of Hispanic Americans. Approximately
50.6 million people now identify themselves as Hispanic American, and by 2060 that
number is expected to double to almost one-third of the U.S. population.  As the Latino
community grows, so will the prevalence of chronic conditions that Hispanics face,
such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, obesity, and related complications. Addressing
chronic diseases among Hispanics is imperative to improving the nation’s health and
maximizing its resources.


A Little Investment Goes a Long Way

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded health coverage to millions of Californians and has improved coverage for millions more, but between 2.7 and 3.4 million Californians under age 65 are predicted to still remain uninsured by 2019, after the ACA is fully implemented. Of those predicted to remain uninsured, almost half—between 1.4 and 1.5 million—are ineligible for federal coverage options due to their immigration status. 

This brief finds that the proposed Medi-Cal expansion would involve new state spending, but the cost is modest in comparison to the impact on health and coverage, and the policy also produces savings.


Diabetes Tied to a Third of CA Hospital Stays, Driving Health Care Costs Higher

Increasing diabetes prevalence has been found to be a primary driver of increased health care costs in the United States.This policy brief examines the impact of diabetes on hospitalizations and related hospitalization costs in California. Using 2011 hospital patient discharge data and annual financial data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), this study found that patients with diabetes represented 31 percent of hospitalizations in California in 2011 among patients 35 years or older, including 39 percent of African-American and Asian-American patients and 43 percent of Latino patients. Moreover, these hospitalizations cost nearly $2,200 more per hospitalization than those for patients without diabetes, regardless of the primary reason for the hospitalization. 


Undocumented and Uninsured Part 2: Band-Aid Care

For immigrant families, access to medical care is both limited and a financial hardship. When undocumented Californians do seek medical attention, the types of care available are Band-Aid options—basic services that provide a quick-fix or temporary remedy but do not address preventative, long-term, or sustainable health needs. These limited public programs are often the only option for uninsured Californians. These barriers are essential to consider as California prioritizes health care for all and addresses wellness in the lives of vulnerable and unprotected populations.


Undocumented and Uninsured Part 1: No Papers, No Health Care

There are an estimated one million undocumented Californians who remain uninsured since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect on January 1, 2014. Without insurance, health care services are unattainable due to cost and inability to qualify for care. Immigrant youth and their families have a pressing need for health services, yet opportunities for this population to access care are increasingly being restricted. In the interest of supporting the prosperity of California, it is important to remember that all health is communal and public, as illness is not confined by borders or neighborhood boundaries. Excluding undocumented Californians from access to care
damages the wellness of the state as a whole.


Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos Data Book

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, released the largest and most comprehensive health and lifestyle analysis of people from a range of Hispanic/Latino origins. The data will enable individuals, communities, and policy makers to tailor better health intervention strategies. The report includes data on more than 16,000 Hispanic/Latino adults across the US and lays the foundation for future research on the possible causes of chronic diseases and ways to prevent them.


Covered California

Affordable Health Care Is Here

Covered California’s mission is to increase the number of Californians with health insurance, improve the quality of health care for all Californians, reduce health care coverage costs and make sure California’s diverse population has fair and equal access to quality health care.

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The Affordable Care Act and Latinos

The Affordable Care Act will help make health insurance coverage more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans.  For Latinos, like other racial and ethnic minorities, the law will address inequities and increase access to quality, affordable health coverage, invest in prevention and wellness, and give individuals and families more control over their care.

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Missing Persons

Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions

There is an imbalance in the makeup of the nation’s physicians, dentists, and nurses.  This imbalance contributes to the gap in health status and the impaired access to health care experienced by a significant portion of our population.  The Sullivan Commission on Diversity in the Healthcare Workforce finds that African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and certain segments of the nation’s Asian/Pacific Islander population are not present in significant numbers.  Rather, they are missing!  While some outstanding physicians, dentists, and nurses are minorities, access to a health professions career remains largely separate and unequal.  This report, Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions, examines the root causes of this challenge and provides detailed recommendations on how to increase the representation of minorities in the nation’s medical, dental, and nursing workforce.


Obtén información clara e imparcial. (ESP)

La AHRQ es la principal agencia federal encargada de mejorar la calidad, seguridad, eficiencia y efectividad de la atención médica para todos los estadounidenses. Como una de las 12 agencias del U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los Estados Unidos), la AHRQ respalda las investigaciones de los servicios de salud a fin de mejorar la calidad de la atención médica y promover la toma de decisiones basada en la evidencia.

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Everyone can benefit from the facts. (ENG)

AHRQ’s mission is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.

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