Usual source of care and unmet health care needs interaction of disability with race and ethnicity

Willi Horner-Johnson, Konrad Dobbertin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Having a usual source of care (USC) and having unmet health care needs have been found to vary in relation to sociodemographic differences in the US population, including race, ethnicity, and disability status. People in underserved racial and ethnic groups who also have a disability may experience a complex mix of health care advantages and disparities. However, little is known about this intersection.

Objective: To determine how disability status, combined with membership in an underserved racial or ethnic group, is associated with having a USC and unmet health care needs.

Methods: We conducted multivariate regression analyses of 2002-2010 data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, focused on working age adults (18-64 y).

Results: Although most racial and ethnic groups were less likely to have a USC than non-Hispanic whites, people with disabilities were more likely to have a USC; Hispanics with basic activity limitations were the only disability group with elevated odds of lacking a USC. Conversely, disability was strongly associated with unmet health care needs, but we did not find inflated impacts of both having a disability and belonging to an underserved racial or ethnic group.

Conclusions: We found limited evidence of interaction or additive effects of disability and race/ethnicity but did confirm separate disparities for each. Ongoing research is needed to track both disability- related and racial/ethnic disparities, to determine whether increased insurance coverage, provider training, care coordination, and other efforts under the Affordable Care Act lead to reductions in disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S40-S50
JournalMedical care
StatePublished - 2014


  • Ethnicity
  • Health care disparities
  • People with disabilities
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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