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Keywords

Access to public benefits, barriers, minority, poverty, welfare programs

Abstract

In a time of economic crisis following decades of reduced commitments to low-income families, it is critically important to improve our understanding of the obstacles encountered by low-income families attempting to access public benefits and services. Following PRISMA guidelines, this paper offers a scoping review of research published since 2000 that addresses the distinctive barriers encountered by minorities in the United States when attempting to access public benefits. While our review included studies on access to all types of public social welfare benefits, most research during the study period focused specifically on access issues in obtaining various forms of health care. Findings suggest that the major barriers to accessing health care were cultural and racial barriers, economic and financial barriers, structural organizations/institutional factors, demographic barriers, and other individual barriers. The discussion considers policy and program design strategies that are responsive to identified access barriers, including an emphasis on addressing racial and cultural issues that hinder access to benefits by minority groups.

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