‘Medical Homes’ Provide Access to Quality Care for Uninsured, Could Reduce Racial Disparities, Study Finds
Individuals who have a regular and accessible primary care provider report higher quality of care, regardless of race or health insurance status, according to a study released Wednesday by the Commonwealth Fund, the Miami Herald reports (Dorschner, Miami Herald, 6/28). For the study, researchers analyzed data from the 2006 Commonwealth Fund Health Quality Survey, which involved more than 2,800 adults. The study examined the use of "medical homes," defined as regular providers or places of care that an individual easily could contact by phone, receive medical advice or care from on weekends and evenings, and that has organized and efficient office visits (Dixon, Orlando Sentinel, 6/28).
According to the study, 16% of uninsured U.S. residents have a medical home. Among residents who have a regular source of care, 15% of Hispanics have a medical home, and 28% of whites and 34% of blacks have a medical home. The report offered no explanation for the higher rate of medical homes among blacks.
The study found that about half of all Hispanics between the ages of 18 and 64 are uninsured, as are 28% of blacks and 21% of whites. In households where a family member has full-time employment, 53% of Hispanics have health insurance, compared with 84% of Asian-Americans, 82% of whites and 75% of blacks.
The study found that medical homes helped all patients better manage chronic diseases and maintain basic preventive care. In addition, medical homes could eliminate racial and ethnic health care disparities, according to the study (Miami Herald, 6/28).
Researchers found that about three-quarters of Hispanics, whites and blacks who have medical homes said they consistently received the care they needed and had no trouble making appointments. Uninsured individuals who reported high quality of care often used community medical centers as medical homes, according to Anne Beal, senior program officer for the Program on Quality of Care for Underserved Populations at the Commonwealth Fund.
For individuals with no source of regular care, about 44% of whites reported always receiving the care they need, compared with a third of Hispanics and blacks. Beal said the study suggests that expanding the use of public clinics could improve care while reducing costly emergency department visits (Orlando Sentinel, 6/28).
The report is available online.
A webcast of a briefing to discuss the report -- featuring Steven Schoenbaum, executive vice president of the Commonwealth Fund; Beal; Garth Graham, deputy assistant secretary for Minority Health at HHS; Dora Hughes, health and education policy adviser for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barak Obama (Ill.); and Ana Maria Siraro Parera, medical director at Spanish Catholic Center of Catholic Community Services -- is available online at kaisernetwork.org.