The Impact of Patient-Provider Race/Ethnicity Concordance on Provider Visits: Updated Evidence from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2019 Oct;6(5):1011-1020. doi: 10.1007/s40615-019-00602-y. Epub 2019 Jun 24.


Objective: To examine the association between race/ethnicity concordance and in-person provider visits following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Design: Using 2014-2015 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, we examine whether having a provider of the same race or ethnicity ("race/ethnicity concordance") affects the probability that an individual will visit a provider. Multivariate probit models are estimated to adjust for demographic, socioeconomic, and health factors.

Results: Race/ethnicity concordance significantly increases the likelihood of seeking preventative care for Hispanic, African-American, and Asian patients relative to White patients (coef = 1.46, P < 0.001; coef = 0.71, P = 0.09; coef = 1.70, P < 0.001, respectively). Race/ethnicity concordance also increases the likelihood that Hispanic and Asian patients visit their provider for new health problems (coef = 2.14, P < 0.001 and coef = 1.49, P < 0.05, respectively). We find that race/ethnicity concordance is also associated with an increase in the likelihood that Hispanic and Asian patients continue to visit their provider for ongoing medical problems (Hispanic coef = 1.06, P < 0.001; Asian coef = 1.24, P < 0.05).

Conclusions: There is an association between race/ethnicity concordance and the likelihood of patients visiting their provider. Our results demonstrate that racial disparities in health care utilization may be partially explained by race/ethnicity concordance.

Keywords: Health care utilization; Provider visits; Race concordance; Race/ethnicity concordance; Racial disparities.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States