Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Healthcare Policy & Research

First Advisor

Peter Cunningham, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lindsay Sabik, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Bassam Dahman, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Andrew Barnes,Ph.D.


Disparate healthcare experiences continue to pose a challenge; vulnerable populations such as low-income and racial and ethnic minorities may not be able to afford or utilize care when needed or receive quality care. The sources of disparities are complex and multi-factorial, which include health care system-level factors such as insurance and health care workforce. It is relatively less known to what extent these contribute to disparities related to a patient’s overall health care experience across three important domains – affordability, utilization and satisfaction with care.

This dissertation has three objectives. First, to assess how insurance benefit design affects health care utilization among poorest adults. Second, examine the role of insurance in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in access to preventive care. Finally, examine the role of health care providers in differences related to satisfaction with care among low-income patients.

To answer questions posed in this dissertation, two different types of datasets are used: a unique hospital administrative data from a coverage program for low-income adults and 2008-2014 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). To examine the role of insurance and health care providers in disparities related to different outcomes of patient experience, several models are estimated; including mixed effects linear probability and negative binomial regressions, decomposition and multivariate linear probability models.

Several efforts are being made to address inequalities through coverage expansions, removal of financial barriers for preventive services and incentivizing health care providers to improve patient satisfaction. The findings suggest that differences in utilization and satisfaction with care continue to persist among low-income and racial and ethnic minorities. However, policy levers and system-level reforms including value-based insurance designs that may curb healthcare costs without shifting the cost burden to poorer adults, continued reforms to expand coverage and improve access to a usual of care, and policy interventions that extend beyond improving workforce diversity and enhance provider skills to elicit patient communication preferences may foster positive patient experiences and ameliorate existing disparities. Improving patient experiences of care will thus require policy efforts with a comprehensive multi-level strategy that targets broad sectors – including payers, health care providers and society at large.


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