Researchers Find that Individual Rather Than Community-Level Factors Affect Minorities' Purchase of Health Insurance

Research on the effects of social inequality on racial and ethnic minority groups and the role of the safety net - Health Tracking Joint Solicitation

In this 1999–2001 project, Barry G. Saver, MD, MPH, and researchers at the University of Washington, examined whether community-level characteristics, such as unequal income distribution and segregation in housing, affect the decision to purchase private health insurance.

Researchers estimated the probability of individuals purchasing individual insurance, delaying or not obtaining care, utilizing outpatient services and having a regular source of care. A Findings Brief on the project is available at the HCFO website.

This project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO).

Key Findings

  • Among the findings in the brief, are the following:

    • African-American and Hispanic individuals were less likely to purchase individual health insurance than non-Hispanic whites.
    • There was little evidence that individuals in areas with a strong local safety net were less likely to purchase individual health insurance.
    • Minority individuals were not only less likely to have a regular source of medical care than non-minorities, but were also seen less often by the same provider even if they had a regular source of care.
    • Community characteristics that decreased the chances that people would have a usual source of care or annual physician visits included increased managed care penetration, higher cost of living and greater proportions of uninsured residents.

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