Perceptions of Discrimination and Unfair Judgment While Seeking Health Care

Brief

Perceptions of Discrimination and Unfair Judgment While Seeking Health Care

Findings from the September 11-28 Coronavirus Tracking Survey

Abstract

Using data from the Urban Institute’s September 2020 Coronavirus Tracking Survey, a nationally representative survey of adults ages 18 to 64, we describe nonelderly adults’ perceptions of discrimination and unfair judgment while seeking health care in the months leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We find that Black adults were more likely than white or Hispanic/Latinx adults to report having been discriminated against or judged unfairly by a doctor, other health care provider, or their staff in the past 12 months for one of the reasons (race, ethnicity, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, a disability, or a health condition) examined in this study. Among Black adults, women and low-income adults reported discrimination or unfair judgment by a health care provider or their staff at particularly high rates. These experiences can have severe consequences (including delayed or forgone care) that have cumulative adverse effects on people’s lives. To fully ameliorate racial and ethnic inequities in health outcomes, policymakers and the health care system will need to confront and address the adverse experiences patients have when seeking health care and hold payers, providers, and their staff accountable for discriminatory practices and unfair treatment.

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