Effects of Poverty and Lack of Insurance on Perceptions of Racial and Ethnic Bias in Health Care

Authors

  • Irena Stepanikova,

    1. Department of Sociology, Sloan College, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208
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    • Address correspondence to Irena Stepanikova, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Sloan College, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208. Karen S. Cook, Ph.D., the Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor and Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS), Department of Sociology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

  • Karen S. Cook

    1. Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS), Department of Sociology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
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Abstract

Objective. To investigate whether poverty and lack of insurance are associated with perceived racial and ethnic bias in health care.

Data Source. 2001 Survey on Disparities in Quality of Health Care, a nationally representative telephone survey. We use data on black, Hispanic, and white adults who have a regular physician (N=4,556).

Study Design. We estimate multivariate logistic regression models to examine the effects of poverty and lack of health insurance on perceived racial and ethnic bias in health care for all respondents and by racial, ethnic, and language groups.

Principal Findings. Controlling for sociodemographic and other factors, uninsured blacks and Hispanics interviewed in English are more likely to report racial and ethnic bias in health care compared with their privately insured counterparts. Poor whites are more likely to report racial and ethnic bias in health care compared with other whites. Good physician–patient communication is negatively associated with perceived racial and ethnic bias.

Conclusions. Compared with their more socioeconomically advantaged counterparts, poor whites, uninsured blacks, and some uninsured Hispanics are more likely to perceive that racial and ethnic bias operates in the health care they receive. Providing health insurance for the uninsured may help reduce this perceived bias among some minority groups.

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