Study: Blacks less likely to be referred to a neurologist, more likely to pay more for worse care
Black patients make fewer outpatient visits to neurologists than their white counterparts but pay more, according to a recently released study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Black patients were 30 percent less likely to be referred to a neurologist’s office than white patients, even after accounting for demographic factors, insurance and health status differences. Hispanics were 40 percent less likely to see neurologists than whites, according to the study.
The study suggested that failure to receive adequate outpatient neurology care can have medical as well as financial costs.
Medical costs for Black people were $1,485 per person, compared to $599 per white person.
“Take Alzheimer’s,” she told Salon.com. “So much depends, in that case, on the physician’s interaction with the patient and the family. And to think that wouldn’t be influenced by stereotypes on the part of the physician is not being realistic about human nature.”
Monique Tello, a Boston physician, wrote a blog associated with Harvard Medical School, calling for providers and patients to address racism and discrimination in medicine.
The new study concluded that neurologists should engage in policy discussions about access to health care to help close the racial and ethnic disparities in neurological care and also work to educate medical professionals about cultural biases, increase diversity in neurologic care and improve patient education about neurologic illness.