U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Usual Source of Care

Women who have a usual source of care (a place they usually go when they are sick) are more likely to receive preventive care,1 to have access to care (as indicated by use of a physician or emergency department, or not delaying seeking care when needed),2 to receive continuous care, and to have lower rates of hospitalization and lower health care costs.3 In 2007, 89.2 percent of women reported having a usual source of care. Within every racial and ethnic group, women were more likely than men to have a usual source of care. Non-Hispanic White women were most likely to report a usual source of care (91.1 percent), followed by non-Hispanic women of other races not specified (89.1 percent) and non-Hispanic Black women (88.8 percent). Among both women and men, Hispanics were least likely to report a usual source of care (79.9 and 62.7 percent, respectively).

In 2007, the percentage of women with a usual source of care varied by geographic region and poverty level. Among women with household incomes of 200 percent or more of the poverty level, there was little variation in having a usual source of care by geographic region. Among women with lower incomes, however, having a usual source of care varied noticeably by geographic region. Among women with incomes of less than 200 percent of poverty, those in the South and West were least likely to have a usual source of care (77.0 and 81.7 percent, respectively), while those in the Northeast were most likely to have a usual source of care (90.8 percent).

1 DeVoe JE, Fryer GE, Phillips R, Green LA. Receipt of Preventive Care Among Adults: Insurance Status and Usual Source of Care. AJPH. 2003;93(5):786-791.
2 Fryer GE, Dovey SM, Green LA. The importance of having a usual source of health care. Am Fam Physician. 2000;62:477.
3 Weiss LJ, Blustein J. Faithful patients: the effect of long-term physician-patient relationships on the cost and use of health care by older Americans. AJPH 1996;86(12):1742-7.

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