Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
A new study has found that minority patients are not only more likely to miss out on effective treatments, but also are more likely to receive excessive ineffective services (Source: “Quantity Over Quality? Minorities Shown to Get an Excess of Ineffective Care,” Kaiser Health News, June 9, 2017).
The study, published in the June issue of Health Affairs, examined 11 medical services identified as “low value” by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s Choosing Wisely initiative. Among the low-value services that researchers studied, black and Hispanic beneficiaries were significantly more likely to receive many of them than were whites. For example, 17.4% of black patients and 12.8% of Hispanics with advanced dementia received feeding tubes during the study period, compared with just 4.6% of white patients. Similarly, while 14.9% of white patients received cardiac testing before cataract surgery, the figures for blacks and Hispanics were higher, 17.3% and 20.5%, respectively.
A significant body of research has shown that U.S. minorities tend to receive fewer medical services that are considered effective, such as flu shots or aspirin following a heart attack, said William Schpero, a Ph.D. student at the Yale School of Public Health who was the study’s lead author. That disparity is typically attributed to problems with access to the health care system, he said.
However, visiting the doctor frequently was no guarantee of better care, the study suggested. Researchers found that greater use of the health care system was often associated with significantly higher rates of low-value care for many services. “Our findings show that improving access is a necessary but not sufficient part of the policy solution,” said Mr. Schpero. “Improving quality is important as well.”