Who you are and where you live: how race and geography affect the treatment of medicare beneficiaries

Health Aff (Millwood). 2004;Suppl Variation:VAR33-44. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.var.33.


The existence of overall racial and ethnic disparities in health care is well documented, but this average effect masks variation across regions and types of care. Medicare claims data are used to document the extent of these variations. Regions with high racial disparities in one procedure are not more likely to be high in other procedures. Unusually large racial disparities in surgery are often the result of high white rates rather than low black rates. Differences in end-of-life care are driven more by residence than by race. Policies should focus on getting the rates right, rather than solely on racial differences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Medicare*
  • Professional Practice Location*
  • Racial Groups*
  • Social Justice*
  • United States