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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Health care access, use of services, and experiences among undocumented Mexicans and other Latinos.

  • Author(s): Ortega, Alexander N
  • Fang, Hai
  • Perez, Victor H
  • Rizzo, John A
  • Carter-Pokras, Olivia
  • Wallace, Steven P
  • Gelberg, Lillian
  • et al.

BACKGROUND: We compared access to health care, use of services, and health care experiences for Mexicans and other Latinos by citizenship and immigrant authorization status. METHODS: We acquired data from the 2003 California Health Interview Survey, with 42,044 participants representative of noninstitutionalized households. Participants were differentiated by ethnicity/race, national origin, and citizenship/immigration authorization status. Outcome measures included having a usual source of care, problems in obtaining necessary care, use of physician and emergency department care, and 3 experiences with health care. Multivariate analyses measured the associations of citizenship/immigration authorization status with the outcome measures among foreign-born Mexicans and other Latinos vs their US-born counterparts. RESULTS: In multivariate analyses, undocumented Mexicans had 1.6 fewer physician visits (P < .01); compared with US-born Mexicans; other undocumented Latinos had 2.1 fewer visits (P < .01) compared with their US-born counterparts. Both undocumented groups were less likely to report difficulty obtaining necessary health care than US-born Mexicans (odds ratio, 0.68; P < .01) and other US-born Latinos (odds ratio, 0.40; P < .01), respectively. Undocumented Mexicans were less likely to have a usual source of care (odds ratio, 0.70; P < .01) and were more likely to report negative experiences than US-born Mexicans (odds ratio, 1.93; P < .01). Findings were similar for other undocumented Latinos, with the exception of having a usual source of care. Patterns of access to and use of health care services tended to improve with changing legal status. CONCLUSION: In this large sample, undocumented Mexicans and other undocumented Latinos reported less use of health care services and poorer experiences with care compared with their US-born counterparts, after adjustment for confounders in multivariate analyses.

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