People who don't speak English very well tend to have more difficulty accessing medical care and health information. They may also have cultural perceptions about health and medical care that differ from the population as a whole. The U.S. Census Bureau measures linguistic isolation through its American Community Survey, tabulating the number of people over age 5 who speak English "less than very well." In the Kansas City MSA, linguistic isolation grew in the urban and suburban counties from 2000 to 2015, but remained the same or declined slightly in most rural counties.
People without documentation often do not have the resources to access health care and may be reluctant to access medical care, including emergency rooms.
While there is no valid count of this population, the Pew Hispanic Center provides estimates by state. In its 2016 study, based on 2014 data, the center estimated there were 55,000 undocumented immigrants in Missouri and 75,000 in Kansas.
Using these state figures in combination with linguistic isolation data, MARC estimates that there are 44,083 undocumented residents in the 11-county area (24,844 on the Kansas side of the region and 19,239 on the Missouri side). This is slightly higher than 2012 estimates.
Estimates of Undocumented Populations
Homeless populations are very vulnerable to medical issues and often have difficulty accessing consistent medical care except through emergency rooms. This population is also difficult to measure. In a 2014 point-in-time count, service agencies in Jackson, Johnson and Wyandotte counties identified 2,360 homelss individuals. Just over 50 percent were black, 41 percent white and 9 percent Hispanic. According to the Homelessness Task Force of Greater Kansas City, this count is thought to be very low compared to the actual number of homeless in the region.
Another nationally accepted means of estimating homeless populations is to figure 6.3 percent of the people with disabilities — particularly those with limited mobility — often face special concerns that impact their health and access to health care.
Disability categories include vision, hearing and cognitive impairments; ambulatory difficulties; and self-care and independent-living limitations. More than 10 percent of the region's population has some type of disability, and that number rises to more than 35 percent for older adults. total population living below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Using this formula, there are an estimated 15,291 homeless individuals in the region.
A 2014 report prepared for MARC by the University of Missouri Institute of Public Policy documented homelessness among K-12 schoolchildren in the Kansas City region (not including Allen County). The report found a steady increase in the number of homeless youth — almost doubling between the 2008–2009 school year and 2012–2013 — and substantially higher numbers than the point-in-time counts. The latest data, for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, shows a downward trend in the total number of homeless youth.
|Number of Homeless Youth by County and School Year|
Source: Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Kansas Department of Education. Kansas does not report when the number is below 10. Lafayette County, Missouri, data is unavailable for 2008–2009.
People with disabilities — particularly those with limited mobility — often face special concerns that impact their health and access to health care. Disability categories include vision, hearing and cognitive impairments; ambulatory difficulties; and self-care and independent-living limitations.
Education level is a measure that is closely correlated with other vulnerable population measures such as poverty, race and ethnicity, and linguistic isolation. Adults with less than a high school education are distributed across counties in a pattern similar to poverty, with suburban communities having lower percentages and urban and rural counties having higher percentages. Most counties and the region are doing significantly better by this measure than the nation as a whole.
Data is the most current available as of September 2017.
Produced by the Mid-America Regional Council for the REACH Healthcare Foundation | www.marc2.org/healthdata ©