Addressing Racial and Ethnic Barriers to Effective Health Care

The Need for Better Data : Health Plans Can Play a Critical Role in Eliminating Health Disparities by Developing Viable Data Collection Strategies--And Using Them

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 21, no. 3, May/June 2002, p. 91-102

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2002

by Arlene S. Bierman, Nicole Lurie, Karen Scott Collins, John M. Eisenberg

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Racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes and quality of care have been observed among persons with similar health insurance, within the same system of care, and within the same health plan. National efforts to eliminate these disparities are hindered by the lack of race/ethnicity data. Collection of these data by health care providers, coupled with standards for collection, use, and privacy protection, would be a first step toward eliminating disparities. Although no national consensus exists with respect to data collection, the weight of prior research, related public and private efforts, and growing diversity of the U.S. population are likely to increase demand for accurate data on race and ethnicity in health care settings.

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