Mabelin Garcia De La Rosa is a junior in the class of 2020 double majoring in neuroscience and economics. She aspires to work in the medical field in the future and was driven by this goal to complete her project on racial disparities in healthcare. The topic of disparities in healthcare is one that is not new in the U.S. and has become a topic of interest particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mabelin believes it’s important to have a well-rounded understanding of the medical field so she can think about the role she will play as a medical practitioner.
The motivation behind this research project stems from observed disparities existing in healthcare despite the advances in modern technology and medicine today. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, such disparities have been further brought to light. The emergency room setting was the healthcare setting of focus for our analysis of racial disparities. A literature review was conducted to collect a current understanding of the topic and it revealed that racial minorities, which were often times Black/African-American people, were observed to experience adverse health outcomes and experiences compared to White people. Data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) was collected using the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) database. The dependent variable measured whether or not patients received care following a visit to the emergency room. The main independent variable of focus was race and was grouped into four categories: Black, White, Asian, and Native Indian. Other independent variables included were marital status, region, gender, age, and health status; data was collected from years 2015-2017. A regression analysis of our estimated model revealed that Black patients were on average 8.98% more likely to receive care from the emergency room compared to White people. These findings demonstrate a different pattern than of previous studies and may suggest that progressive work towards eliminating racial disparities in healthcare has been accomplished. Concurrently, this can also prompt questions that suggest there may be other reasonings behind our findings such as whether or not Black people have higher rates for using the emergency room due to lack of access to primary healthcare.