Immigrants and Health Care

Sources of Vulnerability

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 26, no. 5, Sep./Oct. 2007, p. 1258-1268

Posted on RAND.org on September 15, 2007

by Kathryn Pitkin Derose, Jose J. Escarce, Nicole Lurie

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Immigrants have been identified as a vulnerable population, but there is heterogeneity in the degree to which they are vulnerable to inadequate health care. Here we examine the factors that affect immigrants' vulnerability, including socioeconomic background; immigration status; limited English proficiency; federal, state, and local policies on access to publicly funded health care; residential location; and stigma and marginalization. The authors find that, overall, immigrants have lower rates of health insurance, use less health care, and receive lower quality of care than U.S.-born populations; however, there are differences among subgroups. We conclude with policy options for addressing immigrants' vulnerabilities.

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