What Culturally Competent Health Care Means for Asian Consumers

According to the Big Shift, multicultural patients have contributed $47.1 billion to the health care industry growth since 2006; Asians alone contributed $11.8 billion. This number will rise as Asian populations continue to grow – but how can marketers ensure that they are reaching and engaging them in the best ways? 

Our Health Care Marketing initiative examines how multicultural consumers receive care and interact with the American health care system. Here, we focus specifically on Asians to understand the systemic and cultural barriers that hinder positive outcomes.

Asian Baseline

Asians are significantly less likely to be diagnosed with top afflictions, even after controlling for their youth. In part, this is due to their hesitation to go to the doctor, but it also appears there is a more fundamental reason.

By several metrics, Asian Americans are healthier than other race / ethnic groups.

Not only do they have lower prevalence of chronic conditions, but they have lower body mass indexes on average. They’re also less likely to have physical or cognitive limitations, and more likely to report that they are in “excellent” or “very good” health.

Systemic Barriers

Despite the “model minority” stereotype, Asians face their own systemic barriers to accessing health care.

Unlike the African American and Hispanic segments, Asians are near insurance parity with non-Hispanic White individuals. Like them, Asians are primarily covered through employer sponsored insurance (ESI) with 63% of adults having coverage.

Coverage purchased directly or on an exchange is their second leading form of coverage, with Asians being most likely to have direct purchase insurance.

Cost is the most cited barrier for those both with and without insurance. Seventy-four percent (121 index to total) of Asians who delayed medical care, cited that they could not afford it. Here the “model minority” stereotype does not accurately convey the multifaceted reality of Asian Americans and glosses over their barriers in health care access.

Culturally Competent Care

Balance plays a large role in health perceptions among Asians, across origins, and orients how they approach care. Understanding their mindset is crucial to providing culturally competent care.

In part because of their clean bill of health and their cultural orientations to health, Asian consumers lean towards a self-serve mentality. They’re more likely to research online and use alternative medicine before a doctor’s visit.

Once they get to the doctor however, Asian patients hold doctors in high esteem and adhere closely to medical advice. 61% say they always do what their doctor tells them to do, as compared to 51% non-Asian consumers. In addition, they’re more likely to respect doctor’s medicinal recommendations and less likely to question their advice.

The Role of Technology

The adoption of health technologies hinges on understanding the needs of multicultural consumers, and how they approach care. Asian consumers prefer to tend to their own health, so technology could act as a bridge to getting advice from professionals.

Asian consumers are the least open to video visits out of all multicultural groups.

Access the Findings

As the share of multicultural patients continues to increase, it becomes even more pertinent to understand how to care for these patients in a culturally competent way. Asian patients are on the lower end of the satisfaction scale when it comes to their medical care, so there is room for improvement.

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