Disparities in Care Experienced by Older Hispanic Medicare Beneficiaries in Urban and Rural Areas

Academic Article


  • Background: Hispanic older adults face substantial health disparities compared with non-Hispanic-White (hereafter "White") older adults. To the extent that these disparities stem from cultural and language barriers faced by Hispanic people, they may be compounded by residence in rural areas. Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate possible interactions between Hispanic ethnicity and rural residence in predicting the health care experiences of older adults in the United States, and whether disparities in care for rural Hispanic older adults differ in Medicare Advantage versus Medicare Fee-for-Service. Subjects: Medicare beneficiaries age 65 years and older who responded to the 2017-2018 nationally representative Medicare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys. Methods: We fit a series of linear, case-mix-adjusted models predicting Medicare CAHPS measures of patient experience (rescaled to a 0-100 scale) from ethnicity, place of residence, and Medicare coverage type. Results: In all residential areas, Hispanic beneficiaries reported worse experiences with getting needed care (-3 points), getting care quickly (-4 points), and care coordination (-1 point) than White beneficiaries (all P's<0.001). In rural areas only, Hispanic beneficiaries reported significantly worse experiences than White beneficiaries on doctor communication and customer services (-3 and -9 points, respectively, P<0.05). Tests of a 3-way interaction between ethnicity, rural residence, and coverage type were nonsignificant. Conclusions: There is a need to improve access to care and care coordination for Hispanic beneficiaries overall and doctor-patient communication and customer service for rural Hispanic beneficiaries. Strategies for addressing deficits faced by rural Hispanics may involve cultural competency training and provision of language-appropriate services for beneficiaries (perhaps as telehealth services).
  • Published In

  • Medical Care  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Martino SC; Elliott MN; Hambarsoomian K; Weech-Maldonado R; Tamayo L; Gaillot S; Haviland AM
  • Start Page

  • 37
  • End Page

  • 43
  • Volume

  • 60
  • Issue

  • 1