Language, Other Barriers Play Role in Quality of Care Differences Between Privately, Publicly Insured Patients, Minnesota Study Finds
Several factors, including language and transportation barriers, likely are contributing to a gap in care quality between privately and publicly insured people in Minnesota, according to a new report from Minnesota Community Measurement, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The report looked at eight health measures and sought to compare gaps in services among clinics in the state.
According to the report, clinics in 2006 provided breast cancer screenings to 77.1% of women with private health insurance and to 57.6% of those receiving government-funded insurance.
Bloomington, Minn.-based HealthPartners has worked to decrease its gap in breast cancer screenings. The clinic noticed that non-English speaking patients were not making follow-up appointments for breast examinations, Beth Averbeck, the clinic's associate medical director for primary care, said. In response, clinic began to provide appointments for breast exams on the same day one was recommended. The clinic also boosted language interpretation services.
Besides language and transportation barriers, limited incomes can affect publicly insured patients' health and thus clinics' quality scores in treating them, the Pioneer Press reports.
Researchers also found that clinics were better at providing chlamydia screening to publicly insured patients than those who were privately insured. According to the Pioneer Press, chlamydia is "more common among minorities and young adults in Minneapolis and St. Paul -- all of whom are more likely to be enrolled in state health plans."
Jim Chase, executive director of MCM, said that the study's aim was not to prove there are disparities in care provided to privately and publicly insured individuals but rather to compare quality disparities among clinics around the state. He said, "Part of what we want to accomplish is reducing the gap," adding, "If some groups seem to be better at doing that, then what can we learn from them?" (Olson, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 9/23).
The report is available online.