Background: As a major provider of health care for racial and ethnic minority groups, the federal government has affirmed its commitment to the elimination of health disparities. Although numerous studies have examined health care disparities in various federal systems of care, few have examined these issues within TRICARE, the Department of Defense (DoD)'s program for providing health care coverage to members of the uniformed services and their dependents. Methods: This study provides an exploratory analysis examining apparent disparities in health status, access to and satisfaction with care, and use of preventive care using the 2007 Health Care Survey of DoD Beneficiaries. Analyses compare outcomes by race/ethnicity and between TRICARE beneficiaries and national norms derived from the National Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study Benchmarking Database and the National Healthcare Disparities Report, and are stratified by duty status. Results: Compared to black non-Hispanics, a higher proportion of white non-Hispanic active-duty and retiree TRICARE beneficiaries reported good to excellent health status. However, on most measures, we found no differences between white non-Hispanic beneficiaries and members of racial/ethnic groups. When differences did exist, minority populations were likely to report better access to and use of services than whites. Conclusions: Although health disparities exist in health status and some measures of preventive care, black non-Hispanics and Hispanics often receive more equitable care under TRICARE than in the nation as a whole. These findings suggest the need to explore the characteristics of TRICARE that may be associated with more-favorable outcomes for racial and ethnic minority groups.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health disparities