Both Overuse And Underuse Explain Disparities In Heart Procedures

A new study finds that groups who have often been found to receive less medical care– non-whites, women, and people without private insurance or who are from urban and rural areas– are less likely to undergo coronary revascularization. But the same study finds that this disparity may be in no small part due to the fact that these same groups are less likely to receive inappropriate procedures. The study, published online in the  Journal of the American College of Cardiologysuggests, therefore, that the apparent underuse of healthcare in some groups may be partly counterbalanced by overuse in other groups.

In an interview with CardioExchange, Chan said that although “we have come a long way in ensuring that care is delivered equitably and thoughtfully in the US… there is no doubt that underuse in certain populations remains a persistent and huge problem. For policymakers… it highlights the importance of thinking about differences in treatment in a more complex way– as due to underuse and also potential overuse. Therefore, the goal may be to narrow the gap in vulnerable populations in instances where treatment has clearly established benefit rather than assuming that the measured difference is entirely due to a disparity in care.” Chan also said the paper was consistent with the hypothesis that patients for whom physicians are paid more are more likely to undergo inappropriate procedures.

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