Study: Racial, Ethnic Minorities Experienced More Barriers to Healthcare Over a Nearly 20-Year Span
In a study published in JAMA Health Forum, Yale University researchers found that all populations saw increased barriers to healthcare from 1999 to 2018, but racial and ethnic minorities were most affected. The analysis of survey data from 590,603 adults revealed increases in five barriers to medical care that are unrelated to cost: inability to get through by telephone; no appointment available soon enough; long waiting times; inconvenient office or clinic hours; and lack of transportation. Overall, the share of respondents who reported barriers to care jumped from 7.1% to 13.5% over the study period. According to the researchers, Black and Latino individuals are more likely to live in medically underserved areas, resulting in them receiving care through emergency departments that could have been provided by a primary care physician. "There is a need for a multisectoral effort to improve spatial accessibility to high-quality primary care clinics and health care professionals for minoritized race and ethnicity groups. Strategies could include addressing differences in distribution of healthcare facilities, increasing flexibility of care (e.g., implementing urgent clinics that do not result in discontinuity of care), including insurance coverage for nonemergency transportation to medical care, and leveraging digital health technologies for high-quality telehealth consultations that are available and accessible," the study said. The researchers also found that women faced barriers to care more often than men in their racial or ethnic groups.
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