Health Benefits Mandates and Their Potential Impacts on Racial/Ethnic Group Disparities in Insurance Markets

Shana Alex Charles, Ninez Ponce, Dominique Ritley, Sylvia Guendelman, Jennifer Kempster, John Lewis, Joy Melnikow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Addressing racial/ethnic group disparities in health insurance benefits through legislative mandates requires attention to the different proportions of racial/ethnic groups among insurance markets. This necessary baseline data, however, has proven difficult to measure. We applied racial/ethnic data from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey to the 2012 California Health Benefits Review Program Cost and Coverage Model to determine the racial/ethnic composition of ten health insurance market segments. We found disproportional representation of racial/ethnic groups by segment, thus affecting the health insurance impacts of benefit mandates. California’s Medicaid program is disproportionately Latino (60 % in Medi-Cal, compared to 39 % for the entire population), and the individual insurance market is disproportionately non-Latino white. Gender differences also exist. Mandates could unintentionally increase insurance coverage racial/ethnic disparities. Policymakers should consider the distribution of existing racial/ethnic disparities as criteria for legislative action on benefit mandates across health insurance markets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
StateAccepted/In press - May 25 2016


  • Benefit mandates
  • Health insurance
  • Racial/ethnic group disparities
  • State health policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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