The Fund supports networks of state health policy decision makers to help identify, inspire, and inform policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund supports two state leadership programs for legislative and executive branch state government officials committed to improving population health.
The Fund identifies and shares policy ideas and analysis to advance state health leadership, strong primary care, and sustainable health care costs.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. And read the latest blogs from our thought leaders, including Fund President Christopher F. Koller.
The Fund publishes The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to health policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is is a foundation that works to improve population health and health equity.
Benjamin D. Sommers
Caitlin L. McMurtry
Robert J. Blendon
John M. Benson
Justin M. Sayde
Feb 7, 2024
Jan 31, 2024
Back to The Milbank Quarterly
Context: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reduced the US uninsured rate to a historic low. But coverage is only one of many factors contributing to race- and income-based disparities in health care access, affordability, and quality.
Methods: Using a novel 2015 national survey of more than 8,000 Americans, we examined disparities between low-income and high-income adults and between racial/ethnic minorities and whites. We conducted a series of regression analyses, starting with models that only took into account income or race, and then sequentially adjusted for health insurance, state of residence, demographics, and health status. We examined self-reported quality of care, cost-related delays in care, and emergency department (ED) use due to lack of available appointments. Then we used multivariate regression to assess respondents’ views of whether quality and affordability had improved over the past 2 years and whether the ACA was helping them.
Findings: Quality of care ratings were significantly worse among lower-income adults than higher-income adults. Only 10%-25% of this gap was explained by health insurance coverage. Cost-related delays in care and ED use due to lack of available appointments were nearly twice as common in the lowest-income group, and less than 40% of these disparities was explained by insurance. There were significant racial/ethnic gaps: reported quality of care was worse among blacks and Latinos than whites, with 16%-70% explained by insurance. In contrast to these disparities, lower-income and minority groups were generally more likely than whites or higher-income adults to say that the ACA was helping them and that the quality and/or affordability of care had improved in recent years.
Conclusions: Our post–health reform survey shows ongoing stark income and racial disparities in the health care experiences of Americans. While the ACA has narrowed these gaps, insurance expansion alone will not be enough to achieve health care equity.
Author(s): Benjamin D. Sommers, Caitlin L. McMurtry, Robert J. Blendon, John M. Benson, and Justin M. Sayde
Keywords: disparities, health care access, health insurance, health reform.
Read on Wiley Online Library
Volume 95, Issue 1 (pages 43–69) DOI: 10.1111/1468-0009.12245 Published in 2017
Get the Latest from the Milbank Memorial Fund
The Milbank Quarterly is an editorially independent multidisciplinary journal that offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.