Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Tomas Dvorak




health, care, disparity, racial, costs


Health care costs in the United States have been on the rise for the last several decades. One major contributing factor to these skyrocketing costs has been the large racial disparity in the health care system. In the 1990’s, many researchers concluded that minority groups, such as Blacks and Hispanics, did not have the same access to primary care as Whites in the U.S. Primary care was found to be essential to reducing health care costs since lack of it resulted in unnecessary hospitalizations leading to higher costs. Since then, there have been several health care reform initiatives targeting the racial disparity. This thesis focuses on determining whether these initiatives along with other factors have helped to reduce/eliminate the racial disparity in the U.S. One particular study, Zuvekas et al. (2003), was able to explain a large percentage of the racial disparity using socioeconomic, demographic, health, and health insurance statuses but regardless the racial disparity still remained. They used data from the Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS) from 1997-1999. Similar to Zuvekas et al. (2003), the dependent variables of this thesis are all access and use variables, while the independent variables include race, demographic, socioeconomic, health, health insurance statuses. The data was all obtained from the most current 2007 MEPS data set that contains information on approximately 30,000 individuals. Various probit and tobit regressions were conducted to identify if the racial disparity still exists. Despite the health care reform efforts over the past ten years, I find that a racial disparity still exists in access and use of the health care system. It is important that future health care reform focus on decreasing this gap to reduce increasing health care costs.