Barriers to Mental Health Care Associated With Differences in Race, Insurance

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Patients who were white were more likely to report insufficient money for medications and mental health care.
Patients who were white were more likely to report insufficient money for medications and mental health care.

HealthDay News — Among adults with serious psychological distress, whites and those with private insurance were significantly more likely than blacks to experience certain barriers to utilizing health care, according to a study published online in Psychiatric Services.

Judith Weissman, PhD, JD, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai, NY, and colleagues used data from the National Health Interview Survey (n = 8940) to compare health care access and utilization among adults with serious psychological distress by race-ethnicity and gender in years surrounding implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The researchers found that the proportions of white and black adults with serious psychological distress were largest in the South. After adjusting for health coverage, sociodemographic characteristics, health conditions, region, and year, whites were more likely than blacks to report insufficient money for medications and mental health care and delays in care. 

Compared with blacks and Hispanics, a greater proportion of whites used private coverage, while blacks were more likely than all other racial-ethnic groups to have Medicaid.

"More research is needed on health care utilization among adults with serious psychological distress," the authors write. "In this group, whites and those with private coverage reported poor utilization, compared with other racial-ethnic groups and those with Medicaid, respectively."

Reference

Weissman J, Russell D, Jay M, Malaspina D. Racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in health care access and use among US adults with serious psychological distress [published online February 1, 2018]. Psychiatr Serv. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201700221

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