PICO RIVERA, Calif. (KABC) -- A new report from the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation finds the gap between the rich and poor is widening in many California counties. Their findings also reveal more evidence that people with the least wealth report more chronic conditions.
A quick stop at a Pico Rivera CVS Pharmacy turned into the opportunity busy college senior Esmerelda Martinez of Santa Fe Springs has been waiting for.
"I just don't go to the doctor very often and now that I"m in school, I just don't have any time for it," she said.
In minutes, she underwent several free screenings: blood pressure, body mass index, glucose and total cholesterol check.
Martinez paid close attention to her blood sugar.
"Diabetes does run in my family so I kind of want to get checked," she said.
CVS Pharmacist Vin Nguyen delivered reassuring news.
CVS is teaming up with Project Health to offer free screenings at various stores in Southern California where local communities are under-served and have limited access to care.
"When you have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, you actually don't have any symptoms of it, that's why they're called a silent killer," Nguyen said.
Among his clients with chronic conditions, Nguyen notices many stop taking their medications. Often they're unaware of the consequences, or they can't afford the high price of prescription drugs.
In a new report, researchers found even with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, 27 million Americans are still uninsured.
Those without health insurance are less likely to have a reliable source of medical care.
"When they are at a lower socioeconomic status, a lot of times they tend to tough it out, and that's something that can be very detrimental," Nguyen said.
As a pharmacist, Nguyen knows he might be the first healthcare practitioner people like Martinez turn to.
The Project Health screenings will be offered at different Los Angeles-area CVS pharmacies through mid-December.
For more information on which locations are offering the screenings for free, go to www.cvs.com/project-health/events.
CVS pharmacies offering free health screenings in some LA-area locations
CIRCLE OF HEALTH