Equity Report Re-Confirms Gaps in Health Care for People of Color

Gaps in health coverage continue to exist between white Minnesotans and other populations, says a new report released Feb. 2 from MN Community Measurement (MNCM).

The 2016 Health Equity of Care Report shows that some racial, ethnic, language and country of origin groups have consistently poorer measures of health than other groups. The report also shows, for the first time, how rates on those measures vary by medical group across the state and gives examples of what groups are doing to improve outcomes for their patients. 

“Minnesota is one of the healthiest states in the nation, at the same time we have some clear and persistent inequities in health status,” said Jim Chase, MNCM president. “Patients from specific geographic regions and populations, including those in Greater Minnesota, people of color, people who identify as Hispanic, immigrants and people who do not speak proficient English are less likely to receive preventive screenings and more likely to suffer from negative health outcomes.” 

“Race is an independent factor contributing to health inequities, knowing that access to healthcare, socioeconomic status, education level, etc. are often cited as the reasons for these disparities,” said Fatima Jiwa, MBChB, who served as chair of the MMA’s Health Disparities Work Group. “Structural racism in all institutions, in particular, is pervasive and particularly challenging to discover and call out.”

The report’s major findings include: 
•    White patients generally had better health care outcomes across most measures and most geographic areas. 
•    Patients in Greater Minnesota overall had poorer health outcomes than patients in the 13-county Metro area. 
•    Patients born in Asian countries tend to have better outcomes across multiple quality measures and geographic regions than patients in other country of origin groups. 
•    Generally, patients from large medical groups in the Metro area had higher rates of optimal care. 
•    Across measures and geographic areas, American Indian or Alaska Native and Black or African American patients generally had the lowest health outcomes both statewide and regionally. 
•    Hispanic patients generally had poorer health care outcomes than non-Hispanic patients across all quality measures and most geographic regions. 
•    Patients born in Laos, Somalia and Mexico generally had poorer outcomes than other groups. 
•    Patients who preferred speaking Hmong, Somali and Spanish generally had lower screening and care rates compared to other preferred language groups. 

The measures of health reflected in the report are adolescent mental health and/or depression screening; adolescent overweight counseling; colorectal cancer screening; optimal asthma control for adults; optimal asthma control for children; optimal diabetes care; and optimal vascular care.