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Med Care Res Rev. 2000;57 Suppl 1:218-35.

Race, ethnicity, and the health care system: public perceptions and experiences.


To assess the public's perceptions and attitudes about racial and ethnic differences in health care, the Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed a nationally representative sample of 3,884 whites, African Americans, and Latinos in 1999. The survey found that the majority of Americans are uninformed about health care disparities--many were unaware that blacks fare worse than whites on measures such as infant mortality and life expectancy, and that Latinos are less likely than whites to have health insurance. Views on whether the health system treats people equally were strikingly different by race. For example, most minority Americans perceive that they get lower quality care than whites, but most whites think otherwise. Nonetheless, more minority Americans were concerned about the cost of care than racial barriers. Efforts to eliminate disparities will need to improve public awareness of the problems as well as address racial and financial barriers to care.

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