The Iom Report: Too Quick to Diagnose Bias

17 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2004

See all articles by Jonathan Klick

Jonathan Klick

University of Pennsylvania Law School; Erasmus School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Sally Satel

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Date Written: March 2004


The IOM report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care argues that medical studies document a systematic causal relationship between race and disparities in health inputs and outcomes among individuals of different races. We argue that the majority of studies are not powerful enough to establish a causal link since they do not sufficiently control for differences among patients that happen to correlate with race. We outline a powerful audit study that could isolate any effect of race on health care decisions. Lastly, we point out that even if there are race-based disparities in health inputs, evaluations of welfare and policy prescriptions should be based on health outcomes since the relationship between care and health is, at least in some cases, weak.

Keywords: Disparities, Discrimination, Health

JEL Classification: C1, C9, I1, J7, K3

Suggested Citation

Klick, Jonathan and Satel, Sally, The Iom Report: Too Quick to Diagnose Bias (March 2004). FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 110. Available at SSRN: or

Jonathan Klick (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
2157463455 (Phone)

Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

Sally Satel

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) ( email )

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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