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September 13, 2023
Jane L. Tavares
Marc A. Cohen
Feb 28, 2024
Dec 14, 2023
Nov 14, 2023
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Having a usual source of care (USC) — a health professional or care location where one can go if sick or in need of medical advice — is a key component of achieving better health outcomes and having a more positive experience with the health care system. Using data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study (HRS), this study examines recent trends (2014-2020) in the use of a USC among those age 50 and older, with a focus on racial/ethnic disparities and other socio-demographic characteristics, including type of health insurance coverage. The analysis found that people with a USC tend to be wealthier, White, and generally healthier than those without a USC. Between 2014 and 2020 there has been a decline in the use of a USC across all groups except for those enrolled in managed care. Results showed that people tend to either gain or lose a USC with major life changes, and that being a person of color was associated with higher odds of losing a USC as were decreases in income. Finally, although individuals with a USC used more health care services overall, there was no evidence that they utilized high-cost hospital services more than those without a USC.
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An endowed operating foundation that engages in nonpartisan analysis, collaboration, and communication, with an emphasis on state health policy.