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Access in Brief: Experiences in Accessing Medical Care by Race and Ethnicity

Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) play an important role in providing health insurance coverage to racial and ethnic minorities. In this issue brief, we use data from the 2015-2018 National Health Interview Survey to compare the demographics, health status, and difficulties accessing care reported by adults and children covered by Medicaid by race and ethnicity. We found disparities in many key measures of access that vary among racial and ethnic groups.

Among adults, there were significant differences between racial and ethnic groups in where they access health services and in their use of certain services. For example, white, non-Hispanic adults were more likely to report their usual source of care being a doctor’s office compared to Black and Hispanic adults, whereas Hispanic and American Indian and Alaska Native, non-Hispanic adults were more likely to report a health center or clinic as their usual source. Additionally, Hispanic and Black, non-Hispanic adults were also less likely than white, non-Hispanic adult Medicaid beneficiaries to have received primary care visits and mental health care in the past 12 months.

Among children, we found differences in access and use of care, reported health status, and chronic conditions between white, non-Hispanic and other racial and ethnic groups. For example, white, non-Hispanic children were more likely to self-report having very good or excellent health, receive their usual care at a doctor’s office, and to have seen a general doctor and a medical specialist in the past 12 months than the majority of the other racial and ethnic groups.