TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Not everyone in Hillsborough County has fair and equal access to quality healthcare, according to a report by the county’s Office of Health Equity.
In their second health equity report, the Office of Health Equity in Hillsborough County conducted research to explore the differences in opportunity, access and outcomes of health among the people of Hillsborough County.
“We have not yet achieved health equity in Hillsborough County,” researchers said at the beginning of the report.
Researchers made this conclusion after gathering data related to how income, education, transportation, health care access and housing contribute to the lack of health equity.
“If you’re living in housing that’s unsafe or in a unsafe community or do not have access to healthcare or education that will all compile and impact your health outcome,” Allison Nguyen said.
Nguyen is the Program Manager for the Office of Health Equity in Hillsborough County. She helped lead the team of researchers who contributed to the research. Here’s some of the data pulled from the report:
“Research shows that a person’s zip code is a more significant predictor of life expectancy than their own genetic code. Conditions need to achieve health equity include affordable, adequate and stable housing, access to goods and services, jobs that provide living wages and economic opportunity, quality education and childcare, and accessible transportation. In Hillsborough County, finding and maintaining affordable housing is a significant challenge.,” the report says.Hillsborough County Health Equity Report
- The city and county waitlist for rental assistance has around 14,000 families. The waitlist is currently closed and may not re-open for 5-7 years, or longer.
- 1 in 4 residents live with a mobility disability and an income less than $25,000 per year.
- 2 out of 3 residents (67%) live farther than a 10-minute walk from a healthy food source
- Nearly 1 in 10 middle and high school student who identify and Black or Hispanic report not going to school because they felt they would be unsafe at school or on their way home
“Reliable and affordable transportation gives people access to jobs, education, food health care and other goods and services needed for healthy living.”Hillsborough County Health Equity Report
- 6.5% of Hillsborough households do not have a vehicle
- 20& of Department of Health clients in 2018 said transportation problems were the reason for one or more missed appointments
- The average household in greater Tampa Bay spends 25% of their annual income on transportation
- The cost of 31-day unlimited ride bus pass is $65- That’s close to 8hours of pre-tax minimum wage work
“There’s significant national data which shows unemployment rates rose significantly in the wake of COVID-19. There rates were highest among employees of color, women and those with less formal education.Hillsborough County Health Equity Report
- 15.7% of employed residents of Hillsborough County between ages 19-64 do not have any type of health insurance
- In 2020, only 62.1% of individuals eligible for WIC in Hillsborough County received services.
- Nearly 6% of Florida’s homeless population resided in Hillsborough County in 2019.
“Quality education is not accessible in many communities, especially low-income and communities of color. Even with access to quality education, many inequities may persist through systemic racism and discrimination (gender, nativity, sexual orientation, etc).”Hillsborough County Health Equity Report
- 11.3% of Hillsborough County residents 25 years or older do not have a high school diploma or GED.
- Black students are suspended from school at a higher rate than white students in Hillsborough County and nationally
- Median wealth for Black families whose head of household earned a college degree: $23,400
- Median wealth for White families whose head of household dropped out of high school: $34,700
Health Care Access
“In Hillsborough County health care access can vary by race, ethnicity, income, gender and geography. These variations contribute to health inequities.”Hillsborough County Health Equity Report
- Most people without health insurance cannot afford quality, comprehensive health care. These people are likely to experience premature death and disease and are unlikely to be able to afford medical bills
- Hillsborough County residents rank access to health care as the 3rd most important factor impacting their quality of life
Differences in death & disease as a result of differences in life conditions and resources
“Health inequities are avoidable, unfair and unjust.”Hillsborough County Health Equity Report
- In 2019, Black women were almost twice as likely than White women to experience complications during pregnancy or delivery
- There were nearly triple new HIV cases in Blacks than whites in Hillsborough County in 2019
- In 2019, Black residents were hospitalized with non-fatal firearm injuries at 5.8 times the rate of White residents.
- In 2019, Black residents died from homicide at 5.8 times the rate of White residents
Here’s what Nugyen said when asked how the Office of Health Equity is working to resolve these issues.
“Some of the actions we can take are providing education to decision makers, providing education to community based organizations,” she said. “Achieving health equity is possible. It will take action not just government, not just leaders, but also community members, so that means having difficult conversations, trying to understand why health equity exists and understanding those differences. Understanding that it’s not about personal choice, but understanding it’s about opportunities or obstacles that exist in our community.”