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Health Disparities

All Minnesotans should have equity in the quality and experience of healthcare they receive. Regardless of an individual's background, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status, everyone deserves high-quality, respectful, timely and appropriate healthcare services. Furthermore, promoting healthcare equity can lead to improved health outcomes and overall well-being.1 Many studies have found that the quality of communication between a patient and their provider have a positive effect on the treatment outcomes for patients.2 When people have equitable experience to quality healthcare, it enhances early detection, prevention, and management of chronic diseases, resulting in reduced health disparities.3

However, according to the 2021 Minnesota Health Access Survey responses to questions about unfair treatment, Black Minnesotans and Trans Minnesotans reported the highest rates of unfair treatment at 39 percent and 50 percent, respectively. By contrast, the group reporting the lowest rates of unfair treatment was 9 percent by non-Hispanic white Minnesotans, and 12 percent by cis-gendered men.

Ensuring health care equity in the quality and experience of care for all Minnesotans promotes dignity and respect and promotes healthy outcomes.

Goal: All Minnesotans receive high quality health care, free of provider or system bias.

Measurable goal for 2027: Reduce the percentage of Black Minnesotans and the percentage of Trans and Non-Binary Minnesotans reporting unfair treatment by their providers by 50 percent.

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Source: Minnesota Department of Health and University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minnesota Health Access Survey, 2011-2021. 

Technical notes: MNHA survey requested responses for both the individuals responding to the questionnaire, as well as the respondent’s child or spouse. If an individual included affirmative (sometimes, usually, or always) responses to the following questions they were counted in the numerator. 1) How often does your race, ethnicity, or nationality cause health care providers to you unfairly? 2) How often do health care providers treat you unfairly because of the type of health insurance you have, or you don’t have health insurance? 3)How often does your gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression cause health care providers to treat you unfairly? 

Survey data for trans and nonbinary individuals was first collected in the 2021 survey and will be collected in future surveys. Prior years would not have included this type of unfair treatment for all groups. This means that there were more ways you could report unfair treatment in 2021, likely causing the percentages to increase for all groups.

There were methodological changes to survey implementation in 2019, the survey went from only phone calls to include web-based responses as well.

1 Sequist, T.D., Schneider, E. C., Anastario, M., et al. (2008). Quality monitoring of physicians: Linking patients' experiences of care to clinical quality and outcomes. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23(11), 1784–1790.

2 Stewart, M.A. (1995). Effective physician-patient communication and health outcomes: A review. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 152(9), 1423-1433.

3 Beach, M. C., Keruly, J., & Moore, R.D. (2006). Is the quality of the patient-provider relationship associated with better adherence and health outcomes for patients with HIV? Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(6), 661-665.

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