Objectives: Improving the health of minority adolescents will require a better understanding of factors that influence their access to and use of health care. This study describes the differences in health care access and use among White, Black and Hispanic adolescents and evaluates how such differences are influenced by insurance.
Methods: We used data on 7465 10- to 17-year-olds included in the child health supplement to the 1988 National Health Interview Survey.
Results: Much higher proportions of Blacks (16%) and Hispanics (28%) than of Whites (11%) were uninsured. Despite having worse reported health status, Black and Hispanic adolescents made notably fewer doctor visits in the past year than their White peers, and were more apt to lack usual sources of routine and acute care as well as continuity between sources of care. Having health insurance was associated with greater increase in access and usage measures for minority youth than for White youth. However, racial differences persisted even after adjusting for health insurance, family income, need, and other factors.
Conclusions: Minority adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the problems of health care access that affect all youth. While health insurance is especially important for increasing appropriate health care use among minority youth, nonfinancial methods of enabling more equitable use also deserve further study.