Women's Health USA 2007
Photographs of women's faces
Health Services Utilization
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 2005, almost 90 percent of women reported having a usual source of care. Women of all racial and ethnic groups were more likely than men to have a usual source of care. Among women, non-Hispanic Whites were most likely to report a usual source of care (91.8 percent), followed by non-Hispanic Blacks (89.9 percent); Hispanic women were least likely to report a usual source of care (78.5 percent).

In 2005, 86.9 percent of women reported an office-based source of care (such as a physician’s office), while fewer than 1 percent reported an emergency department was their usual source of care. This varied by family income level. Women with family incomes under 100 percent of the Federal poverty level (FPL) were more likely to report that hospital outpatient departments (1.5 percent) and emergency departments (1.9 percent) were the places they usually go when sick, and were more likely to have no usual source of care (17.1 percent) than those with higher income levels. Only 0.2 percent of women whose family incomes were at 300 percent or more of FPL named emergency departments as the place they usually go when sick, and only 6.1 percent had no usual source of care.

1 Ettner SL. The relationship between continuity of care and the health behaviors of patients: does a usual physician make a difference? Medical Care 1999;37(6): 647-55.

2 Sox CM, Swartz K, Burstin HR, Brennan TA. Insurance or a regular physician: which is the most powerful predictor of health care? AJPH 1998;88(3):364-70.

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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Women's Health USA 2007 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2007. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007.