Women in LA County are getting healthier, study finds

A woman has a medical check up by a doctor during the celebrations for the International Women's Day.
A woman has a medical check up by a doctor during the celebrations for the International Women's Day.
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Women in Los Angeles County have made strong gains in access to health insurance, and fewer are smoking and dying from coronary heart disease, according to a new study published Wednesday.

More women than ever have insurance, most likely due to the effects of the Affordable Care Act, said Dr. Rita Singhal, medical director at the L.A. County Department of Public Health, which put out the study.

Between 2011 and 2015, the number of women without health insurance decreased by 60 percent. But despite those gains, the proportion of women with "no regular source of care" decreased only slightly, according to the study. In addition, racial and ethnic disparities persist.

"For example: Latino population – they also had a major decrease in the percentage of women that were uninsured but still remain as the group that has the highest rate of insurance," Singhal said.

The study, "Health Indicators for women in Los Angeles County," is the fourth edition of the report, which is published every four years. It uses data from 8,000 people living in L.A. County to produce a comprehensive snapshot of overall women’s health in the county, Singhal said.

The study highlights health disparities between women of different racial and economic backgrounds. It shows how factors like education, home ownership or diet are connected to health.

Researchers involved in the study plan to present their findings at a community event in March, Singhal said. She said the timing of the study's release was ideal, given county supervisors' approval last fall of a five-year initiative that directs all 37 county departments to watch out for the needs of women and girls.

Although Singhal believes the county is moving in the right direction, she said there is still a lot of work to be done, and some of the hardest work involves the most vulnerable populations, like the county’s rising population of women who are homeless.