Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Linked to Physician Practice Resources

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Primary care physicians treating a disproportionate share of black and Latino patients typically earn less, see more patients, provide more charity care, treat more Medicaid patients, and receive lower private insurance payments than their counterparts who treat fewer such patients, according to a national study funded by the Commonwealth Fund and published recently as a Web exclusive in the journal Health Affairs. These same physicians also reported more problems providing high-quality care, ranging from inadequate time with their patients to difficulty obtaining specialty care. Conducted by researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), the study sheds new light on the pervasive racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States by looking beyond individual patient characteristics to community and physician practice resources. The study also examined how higher Medicaid payments might help physicians treating mostly minority patients provide high-quality care and reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

  • About 52 percent of primary care physicians reported having patient panels with less than 30 percent minorities, 36 percent reported 30 percent to 70 percent of their patients were minorities, and 12 percent reported that minorities constituted more than 70 percent of their patients, confirming previous research showing that relatively small numbers of physicians treat a disproportionately large share of minority patients.
  • Physicians in high-minority practices received more than a third of their practice revenue from Medicaid, compared with 13 percent for physicians in low-minority practices. Thirty-five percent of physicians in high-minority practices reported that patients’ inability to pay was a major barrier to providing high-quality care, compared with 23 percent of physicians in low-minority practices.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.