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Undocumented immigrants and their use of medical services in Orange County, California


Does an undocumented immigration status predict the use of medical services? To explore this question, this paper examines medical care utilization of undocumented Latino immigrants compared to Latino legal immigrants and citizens, and non-Latino whites in Orange County, California. Data were collected through a random sample telephone survey of 805 Latinos and 396 non-Hispanic whites between January 4 and January 30, 2006. Findings show that undocumented immigrants had relatively low incomes and were less likely to have medical insurance; experience a number of stresses in their lives; and underutilize medical services when compared to legal immigrants and citizens. Predictors of use of medical services are found to include undocumented immigration status, medical insurance, education, and gender. Undocumented Latinos were found to use medical services less than legal immigrants and citizens, and to rely more on clinic-based care when they do seek medical services.

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