In Minnesota, Large Disparities in Health Care Persist by Race, Language, and Country of Birth

New report provides data to support improvement efforts

Minnesotans who are Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic/Latinx are far more likely than others to experience gaps in health care quality and less than optimal health outcomes, according to a new report from MN Community Measurement (MNCM). The report documents continued wide disparities in health care quality and outcomes by race, ethnicity, language, and country of origin using data collected by MNCM in 2021 that reflects care provided in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic and increased attention to equity and social justice in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd have combined to highlight the urgency of health equity as a priority for most health care stakeholders in Minnesota and nationally. As a result, comprehensive and reliable data about disparities are more important than ever – to identify problems, prioritize actions, and evaluate progress toward goals.

Key Findings

Using one of the most comprehensive sources of data on health care disparities in the nation, MNCM’s new report provides an update on disparities by race, ethnicity, language, and country of origin for Minnesota as a whole and by medical group.

Key findings of the analysis include the following:

  • Black and Indigenous Native patients fared worse than average on nearly all of the 18 measures included in the report, and Hispanic/Latinx patients fared worse than average on 12 of the measures. For all three of these groups, some of the largest gaps are in screening for colorectal cancer — with rates that are 15 to 17 percentage points below the statewide average of 71 percent.
  • Hmong, Spanish, and Somali are among the most common languages in Minnesota for patients with a preferred language other than English. Patients who speak these languages often have significantly lower rates of optimal care compared to the statewide average. As with race, the gaps are largest for colorectal cancer screening, where patients who speak Hmong, Spanish and Somali have screening rates that are 35, 25, and 42 percentage points below the statewide average, respectively.
  • Mexico, Somalia, and Laos are among the most common countries of birth outside of the U.S., and quality measures for patients born in these countries are often lower than for U.S.-born patients. Some of the largest gaps for these patients are for colorectal cancer screening (ranging from 23 to 40 percentage points below the statewide average) and follow-up care for depression (ranging from 9 to 15 percentage points below the statewide average for follow-up with adults after 12 months).

In addition to statewide results, appendices to the report also include results of quality measures by race, ethnicity, language, and country of origin at the medical group level. This analysis is useful for understanding variation in outcomes both within and across medical groups.

“As an organization that brings together data from across the state to drive improvement in health care, MNCM has an important part to play in these efforts,” said Julie Sonier, MNCM President and CEO. “But action is needed on many fronts – building trust among patients, delivering the right care at the right time, making sure that the way we pay for health care includes incentives for reducing disparities, and making sure that the right public policies are in place to support and sustain progress over time.”

The report’s analysis includes measures of statewide disparities for colorectal cancer screening, optimal diabetes care, optimal vascular care, optimal asthma control, mental health screening for adolescents, and outcomes of depression care for both adults and adolescents. Only patients who meet certain criteria (for example, having a medical office visit during the year) are counted in these measures. This is an important factor to consider in drawing general conclusions about population health from this data – for example, the measures in this report do not include people who received no health care or only received care at a hospital emergency room.

About MN Community Measurement

MN Community Measurement is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering health care decision makers with meaningful data to drive improvement. A trusted source of health care data since 2005, MNCM is a statewide resource for timely, comparable information on health care quality, cost, and equity. Learn more at