Brief To What Extent Are Parents and Children Exposed to Bias and Unfair Treatment in Health Care?
National Findings from 2022
Dulce Gonzalez, Michael Karpman, Genevieve M. Kenney, Marla McDaniel
Display Date
Download brief
(289.9 KB)

This study assesses unfair treatment in health care settings among parents and their children under age 19. We examine unfair treatment in health care settings related to race, ethnicity, country of origin, and primary language for both parents and children. For parents, we also assess unfair treatment related to additional characteristics (insurance coverage type, weight, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, income, and disability or health condition), consequences of unfair treatment, and concerns that they or family members will be treated unfairly in health care settings in the future.

Why this matters

Prior experiences with unfair treatment in health care settings and anticipation of unfair treatment in future encounters could create long-lasting adverse consequences for children and their parents. Changes in the health care system will be required to provide high-quality, respectful, culturally effective, and evidence-based care to all children and their parents, including Black parents and parents of color.

What we found

  • Just over 1 in 8 parents (13 percent), including parents of young children, reported they were treated or judged unfairly in health care settings in the past 12 months because of their race or ethnicity, language, health insurance type, weight, income, disability, or other characteristics.
    • More than 1 in 5 Black parents (22 percent) reported unfair treatment, a rate that was 10 percentage points higher than that of parents who are white, Hispanic/Latinx, and additional races.
  • Three percent of all parents, and 9 percent of Black parents, reported that their children were treated or judged unfairly in health care settings in the past 12 months because of the parent’s or child’s race, ethnicity, country of origin, or primary language.
  • Just over 7 in 10 parents (71 percent) who experienced unfair treatment reported disruptions in their health care. About one-third (33 percent) took steps to express their dissatisfaction with how they were treated.
  • Four in 10 Black parents (40 percent) and 3 in 10 Hispanic/Latinx parents (30 percent) reported being concerned they or a family member will be treated or judged unfairly in health care settings in the future because of their or a family member’s race, ethnicity, or primary language.

How we did it

Our analysis draws on data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey (HRMS), a nationally representative internet-based survey of adults ages 18 to 64 that provides timely information on health insurance coverage, health care access and affordability, and other health topics. The June 2022 round of the HRMS had a sample size of 9,494 adults, including 2,981 parents of children under age 19.

Research Areas Children and youth Families Health and health care Race and equity
Tags Children's health and development Health care delivery and payment Health equity Race, gender, class, and ethnicity Racial and ethnic disparities Racial inequities in health Structural racism
Policy Centers Health Policy Center Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population
Research Methods Data analysis Quantitative data analysis
Related content