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Racial and ethnic differences in diabetes care and health care use and costs.

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license


Previous studies have shown racial and ethnic differences in diabetes complication rates and diabetes control. The objective of this study was to examine racial and ethnic differences in diabetes care and health care use and costs for adults with diabetes using a nationally representative sample of the U.S. noninstitutionalized civilian population.


We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the 2000 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and its related Diabetes Care Survey. The respondents were adults (aged 18 years and older) with diabetes, including non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic African Americans, and Hispanics. Racial and ethnic differences were examined in diabetes process of care and health care use and costs using logistic regression, negative binomial regression, and ordinary least squares regression with log cost.


Most of the outcomes in diabetes care management, treatment, and complications were not significantly different among race groups. After adjusting for socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, Hispanics were more likely to have eye problems than whites (odds ratio, 1.56; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-2.56). African Americans and Hispanics had lower total health care costs, lower ambulatory care costs, and lower prescription drug costs than whites (P < .01 for all).


We found differences in ambulatory care and prescription drug fills among white, African American, and Hispanic adults with diabetes. However, most of the diabetes care measures were not significantly different among the three racial and ethnic groups. Understanding the reason outcomes do not differ when health care use and costs differ significantly should be a focus of future studies.

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