(HealthDay News) — From 1999 to 2018, barriers to timely medical care in the United States increased for all racial and ethnic groups, with disparities between groups also increasing, according to a study published in JAMA Health Forum.

César Caraballo, MD, from Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, and colleagues evaluated trends in barriers to timely medical care from 1999 to 2018 in a cross-sectional study of 590,603 adults.

The researchers assessed temporal trends in racial/ethnic disparities relating to 5 specific barriers to timely medical care: inability to get through by telephone, no appointment available soon enough, long waiting times, inconvenient office or clinic hours, and lack of transportation.

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In 1999, the proportion of patients reporting any of the 5 barriers to timely medical care was 6.9% for Black patients, 7.0% for White patients, 7.3% for Asian patients, and 7.9% for Hispanic/Latino patients. There was no significant difference between the groups.

From 1999 to 2018, there was a significant increase in the proportion of patients reporting barriers across all racial and ethnic groups (P <.001 for all). There was a 5.7 percentage point increase for Asian patients, a 5.9 percentage point increase for White patients, an 8.0 percentage point increase for Black patients, an 8.1 percentage point increase for Hispanic/Latino patients.

The increases over time resulted in an increase in the between-group disparities. In 2018, the proportion of patients reporting any barrier was 2.1 percentage points higher among Black patients than among White patients (P =.03) and 3.1 percentage points higher among Hispanic/Latino patients than among White patients (P =.001).

“There is considerable scope for implementing changes to remove the barriers to medical care and to eliminate these racial and ethnic disparities,” the authors wrote.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the health care industry.

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