Hospital Payer and Racial/Ethnic Mix at Private Academic Medical Centers in Boston and New York City

Int J Health Serv. 2017 Jul;47(3):460-476. doi: 10.1177/0020731416689549. Epub 2017 Feb 2.


Academic medical centers (AMCs) are widely perceived as providing the highest-quality medical care. To investigate disparities in access to such care, we studied the racial/ethnic and payer mixes at private AMCs of New York City (NYC) and Boston, two cities where these prestigious institutions play a dominant role in the health care system. We used individual-level inpatient discharge data for acute care hospitals to examine the degree of hospital racial/ethnic and insurance segregation in both cities using the Index of Dissimilarity, together with recent changes in patterns of care in NYC. In multivariable logistic regression analyses, black patients in NYC were two to three times less likely than whites, and uninsured patients approximately five times less likely than privately insured patients, to be discharged from AMCs. In Boston, minorities were overrepresented at AMCs relative to other hospitals. NYC hospitals were more segregated overall according to race/ethnicity and insurance than Boston hospitals, and insurance segregation became more pronounced in NYC after the Affordable Care Act. Although health reform improved access to insurance, access to AMCs remains limited for disadvantaged populations, which may undermine the quality of care available to these groups.

Keywords: Medicaid; access to care; disparities; health reform; hospitals; race; segregation; uninsured.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers*
  • Adult
  • Boston
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • New York City
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Racial Groups*
  • United States