259544 Health and health care for undocumented immigrants in the United States: A review of the literature

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 1:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Jacqueline Torres, MPH, MA , School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
E. Richard Brown, PhD , Department of Health Services, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Steven Wallace, PhD , UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Los Angeles, CA
Background: The 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the US will be excluded from receiving health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Objectives: To identify current research on health status, healthcare access and costs of care for undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Methods: Searches were completed via Medline and LexusNexus in addition to a general web search for foundation reports and policy briefs. Articles were divided broadly into topics of health status, access to care and costs of health care, with subgroups specified within each broad topic (e.g. child health, chronic disease).

Results: Undocumented immigrants may enjoy a relative health advantage. However, this advantage rapidly deteriorates as undocumented immigrants receive less adequate healthcare than any other group, including preventive care. In many cases, like prenatal care, the adverse effects of poor access to care are passed on to US-born children of undocumented parents. In turn safety net providers must shoulder the costs of increased complications (e.g. during the postnatal period), which may have been avoided with improved preventive care. Gaps in the literature include information on chronic disease, and how poor health care access exacerbates chronic disease. There is also little knowledge about how the effects of poor healthcare access will accumulate for undocumented immigrants and their children across the life-course.

Conclusions: Undocumented immigrants will likely continue to have poor access to health care under ACA; this may in turn contribute to adverse and costly health outcomes for undocumented immigrants and their children.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe findings from the current research literature on health status, health care access and costs of healthcare for undocumented immigrants in the United States. Identify significant gaps in the research literature on undocumented immigrant health and opportunities for further investigation.

Keywords: Immigrants, Health Care Access

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a graduate student researcher with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.