Study Finds Lower Use of EDs by Undocumented Immigrants
Undocumented immigrants from Latin America are 50% less likely than U.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.
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.
Ortega and colleagues found that in addition to being less likely to have health insurance, undocumented immigrants are less likely to visit a physician, clinic or ED. In addition, after accounting for age, health status, insurance status and poverty level, researchers found that undocumented immigrants still made fewer visits to physicians and were 30% less likely than U.S.-born Latinos to have a consistent source of health care.
Ortega said, "The current policy discourse that undocumented immigrants are a burden on the public because they overuse public resources is not borne out with data, for either primary care or emergency department care." He added, "In fact, they seem to be underutilizing the system, given their health needs" (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 11/27).
An abstract of the study is available online.