Although progress has been made, "overwhelming evidence shows that racial and ethnic minorities are prone to poorer-quality healthcare than white Americans," according to Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, Updated 2010, a position paper released by the American College of Physicians, an internal medicine society composed of 130,000 physicians and medical students.
Several statistics are cited to illustrate disparities in care: 34% of Latinos lack health insurance compared with 13% of whites, the paper notes, and racial and ethnic minorities diagnosed with dementia are 30% less likely than whites to use anti-dementia medications. “Closing the disparity gap is not only morally and professionally imperative, it remains a glaring civil rights injustice that must be addressed,” the paper's authors state.
The paper also calls for access to affordable health insurance for all legal residents; the strengthening of health literacy among racial and ethnic minorities; the incorporation of cultural competency training into medical school curricula; and the development of a diverse healthcare workforce "that is more representative of the patients it serves" to promote equity in the healthcare system.
The paper updates a 2003 report and notes that some problems have been exacerbated since then. As proof, it cites an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report that states that African-Americans fared "significantly worse" than whites on 19 of 38 quality measures and that African-Americans are more likely to report poor provider-patient communication than white patients. The report also mentions a Commonwealth Fund survey that indicates that use of the medical home model can reduce disparities in healthcare access and improve the quality of care received in both preventive medicine and chronic disease management.