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Public Health Rep. 2005 Jul-Aug; 120(4): 431–441.
PMCID: PMC1497738

Disparities in access to care and satisfaction among U.S. children: the roles of race/ethnicity and poverty status.


OBJECTIVES: The study assessed the progress made toward reducing racial and ethnic disparities in access to health care among U.S. children between 1996 and 2000. METHODS: Data are from the Household Component of the 1996 and 2000 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Bivariate associations of combinations of race/ethnicity and poverty status groups were examined with four measures of access to health care and a single measure of satisfaction. Logistic regression was used to examine the association of race/ethnicity with access, controlling for sociodemographic factors associated with access to care. To highlight the role of income, we present models with and without controlling for poverty status. RESULTS: Racial and ethnic minority children experience significant deficits in accessing medical care compared with whites. Asians, Hispanics, and blacks were less likely than whites to have a usual source of care, health professional or doctor visit, and dental visit in the past year. Asians were more likely than whites to be dissatisfied with the quality of medical care in 2000 (but not 1996), while blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to be dissatisfied with the quality of medical care in 1996 (but not in 2000). Both before and after controlling for health insurance coverage, poverty status, health status, and several other factors associated with access to care, these disparities in access to care persisted between 1996 and 2000. CONCLUSIONS: Continued monitoring of racial and ethnic differences is necessary in light of the persistence of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in access to care. Given national goals to achieve equity in health care and eliminate racial/ ethnic disparities in health, greater attention needs to be paid to the interplay of race/ethnicity factors and poverty status in influencing access.

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Selected References

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