The Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999 directed AHRQ to track "prevailing disparities in health care delivery as it relates to racial factors and socioeconomic factors in priority populations."
The priority populations to be tracked are:
- Minority groups
- Low income groups
- Individuals with special health care needs,
including individuals with disabilities and individuals who need chronic care or end-of-life care.
In addition, this legislation directs AHRQ to examine health care delivery in rural areas. Additional information on health care disparities is available in the annual National Healthcare Disparities Report http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/qrdr09.htm which uses MEPS as one of its data sources.
Since demographic characteristics are collected in the MEPS-HC, health care disparities can be examined for any topics within the MEPS HC survey.