Racial and ethnic differences in access to and use of health care services, 1977 to 1996

Med Care Res Rev. 2000;57 Suppl 1:36-54. doi: 10.1177/1077558700057001S03.


This article focuses on racial and ethnic disparities in health care, describing both absolute differences and relative changes in access to care and the use of health services among whites, blacks, and Hispanics over the past two decades. Using data from a series of three nationally representative medical expenditure surveys, the authors present descriptive statistics on disparities in access and use between minorities and whites over time. They also use multivariate analyses to isolate the extent to which health insurance and income explain those disparities. The authors find that disparities increased between 1977 and 1996, particularly for Hispanic Americans. Results also show that approximately one half to three quarters of the disparities observed in 1996 would remain even if racial and ethnic disparities in income and health insurance coverage were eliminated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility / trends
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Income / trends
  • Infant
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Insurance, Health / trends
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Econometric
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Regression Analysis
  • United States
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data*