One-fifth of the U.S. population has no doctor or other usual source of medical care

Research Activities, March 2011, No. 367

Roughly 60 million people—1 in 5 Americans—have no usual source of medical care, such as a family doctor or clinic, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). According to data from AHRQ, in 2007, two-thirds of those who reported not having a usual source of care said the main reason was because they seldom or never got sick and another 14 percent said their main reason was the high cost of care.

When AHRQ analyzed these and other main reasons reported for not having a usual source of care by people's background and other factors, they found differences. For example:

  • Some 29 percent of people with no health insurance cited high cost as their main reason for not having a usual source of care compared with 16 percent of people with public insurance and 4 percent of those with private health insurance.
  • Hispanics were more likely to say high cost was the main reason why they didn't have a usual source of care (22 percent), compared with 12 percent for people of racial and ethnic groups.
  • At the same time, 59 percent of the uninsured reported not having a usual source of care because they never got sick, compared with 67 percent of people with private insurance and 53 percent of people with public insurance.
  • Blacks were most likely to report that they didn't have a usual source of care because they seldom or never got sick (69 percent) compared with Hispanics, 62 percent; whites, 61 percent; and Asians, 58 percent.
  • Asians were most likely to report not liking or trusting doctors as their main reason for not having a usual source of care (12 percent vs. 4 percent for other groups as a whole).

The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to Main Reason for Not Having a Usual Source of Care: Differences by Race/Ethnicity, Income, and Insurance Status, 2007.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at Bob.Isquith@ahrq.hhs.gov or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of March 2011
Internet Citation: One-fifth of the U.S. population has no doctor or other usual source of medical care: Research Activities, March 2011, No. 367. March 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/mar11/0311RA35.html