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, such as a physician’s office or health center) 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 2008, 89.6 percent of women reported having a usual source of care (data not shown); this varied, however, by race and ethnicity and health insurance status.

Non-Hispanic White women were more likely than any women of other races and ethnicities to report a usual source of care (91.7 percent), while Hispanic women were least likely to do so (80.0 percent). Nearly 90 percent of non-Hispanic Asian women and 88.1 percent of non-Hispanic Black women also reported having a usual source of care.

The proportion of women of different races and ethnicities who have a usual source of care varied with health insurance status. Among all women, more than 93 percent of those with private or public health insurance reported having a usual sorce of care; this did not vary significantly by race and ethnicity. Women lacking health insurance were least likely to have a usual source of care (59.0 percent; data not shown). Among women without health insurance, non-Hispanic Whites were more likely than Hispanic and non-Hispanic Asian women to have a usual source of care (63.9 versus 51.1 and 49.6 percent, respectively).

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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