Racial and ethnic disparities in health care continue to persist across the country. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is in the process of being fully implemented, is expected to extend coverage to as many as 32 million Americans who lack insurance by expanding Medicaid and requiring most others to purchase insurance. However, the question remains: will providing health insurance increase access to quality health care for racially and ethnically diverse populations?
Andrew Loehrer, MD, a resident in the MGH Codman Center for Clinical Effectiveness in Surgery and an associate in the Disparities Solutions Center, is examining disparities in surgery before and after the 2006 Massachusetts insurance expansion, as well as the impact of national health reform on racial disparities in surgical disease. On Sept. 10, Loehrer presented the results of his study, “Racial Disparities after Massachusetts Health Reform: Does the Expanded Insurance Coverage Impact Variation in Surgical Care?” at the Racial and Ethnic Disparities: Keeping Current Seminar Series hosted by The Disparities Solutions Center.
“In very common general surgery procedures, we found that the Massachusetts health reform was associated with increasing the quality standard of care for minority communities and decreased, if not eliminated, racial disparities in most general surgery disease processes we studied,” said Loehrer.
Massachusetts has been recognized as a model for the expansion of health insurance in other states across the country, but Loehrer said whether states follow that model is still undecided. “Each of those states is also unique in its own health care environment, its own demographic makeup, and other factors that impact health care,” said Loehrer.
“But they have greater potential to improve access to care by virtue of higher uninsurance rates. So they stand potentially to see similar results.”
For more information about The Disparities Solutions Center visit www.mghdisparitiessolutions.org.
Read more articles from the 09/20/13 Hotline issue.