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Undocumented Immigrants To Seek Care In California Emergency Departments

Armen Hareyan's picture

Undocumented immigrants from Latin America are 50% less likely thanU.S.-born Latinos to visit emergency departments in California,according to a study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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Researchers led by Alexander Ortega, an associate professor at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Public Health, examined data from 42,044 responses to the 2003 California Health Interview Survey, a randomized survey conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the state Department of Public Health.

Ortegaand colleagues found that in addition to being less likely to havehealth insurance, undocumented immigrants are less likely to visit aphysician, clinic or ED. In addition, after accounting for age, healthstatus, insurance status and poverty level, researchers found thatundocumented immigrants still made fewer visits to physicians and were30% less likely than U.S.-born Latinos to have a consistent source ofhealth care.

Ortega said, "The current policy discourse thatundocumented immigrants are a burden on the public because they overusepublic resources is not borne out with data, for either primary care oremergency department care." He added, "In fact, they seem to beunderutilizing the system, given their health needs" (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 11/27).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.