Differences Between Symptom-Specific and General Survey Questions of Unmet Need in Measuring Insurance and Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Access to Care

September 2007
Medical Care , Vol. 45, No. 9
Peter J. Cunningham, Jack Hadley

Health surveys have shown that the uninsured and racial/ethnic minorities are more likely than privately insured and whites to report unmet medical needs. Among 15 symptoms that medical doctors believe should prompt people to seek care—such as shortness of breath, chest pain, persistent headache or loss of consciousness—80 percent of uninsured did not obtain care, compared to 52 percent of privately insured and 39 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, according to a study by HSC researchers in the September edition of the journal Medical Care. In addition, Hispanics were less likely than whites to get the care they need. Findings also show that differences in perceived need for care among insured and racial/ethnic groups did not explain access disparities.

This article is available at the Medical Care Web site. (Subscription required.)