Indigenous Health and Healthcare

November is National Native American Heritage Month, a time when the United States recognizes the culture, heritage, and contributions of indigenous peoples, including those of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander communities. As countries celebrate Indigenous knowledge and culture, it is important to recognize that Indigenous peoples face many socioeconomic and health disparities that limit their overall health and well-being.

In the United States, over 8.6 million people identify as American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN), alone or in combination with other races/ethnics, and nearly 700,000 are Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) individually or nationally. Combination with another group. Within these groups, 1.7 million identify only her AIAN and 550,000 identify only her NHOPI. The combined population of AIAN and NHOPI people has grown by 45% over the past decade, from 6.4 million he in 2010 to about 9.3 million in 2021.

The United States is responsible for providing AIAN people with certain rights, protections, and services, including health care. However, Indian health services have historically been underfunded to meet the medical needs of the AIAN population, who face other social and economic challenges that lead to declining health conditions. People with NHOPI also face systemic challenges to their health. Non-elderly AIAN and NHOPI people are more likely to be uninsured than their white counterparts, and non-elderly AIAN and NHOPI adults are more likely than their white counterparts because cost is a barrier. , are more likely to defer or abandon medical care. Additionally, AIAN and her NHOPI households are less likely to have full-time workers and more likely to be in poverty than white households.

Reflecting these and other challenges, AIAN people fared worse than their white counterparts on a range of health indicators and were more likely to report normal or poor health (AIAN 24%). NHOPI 12% vs Caucasians 12%), including those with chronic conditions. such as asthma and diabetes. People with NHOPI do no worse than their white counterparts on some of these measures, but this makes differences between this diverse community more limited and access to providers for diagnosing chronic conditions more limited. It may also reflect the small population size, which limits the ability of survey data to reliably capture experience. AIAN people also face mental health challenges, including high mortality from suicide and drug overdose. No individual NHOPI data were available for these measures. Additionally, COVID-19 has taken a different toll on AIAN and her NHOPI people, with higher age-adjusted case counts and mortality compared to whites.

Addressing the health and social challenges facing Indigenous Peoples is our duty and responsibility as a nation, to improve the health and well-being of this diverse and growing population, and to help improve the health and prosperity of the United States as a whole. important to As part of these efforts, it will be important to resolve persistent gaps and limitations available in data to understand their health and healthcare experience. has invested heavily to combat the pandemic and improve the infrastructure of indigenous communities. A continued focus on addressing their health and healthcare needs will remain important.


KFF analysis of the 2021 American Community Survey, 1-year estimates. 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Data; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 Response, Public Use Data for COVID-19 Case Surveillance, released October 6, 2022. and National Center for Health Statistics, Provisional His COVID-19 Deaths by HHS Region, Race, and Age as of Oct. 26, 2022.

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