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Undocumented Hispanics Face Health Care Roadblocks in U.S.

Policies needed to eliminate disparities among immigrants, survey findings suggest

FRIDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Financial and language issues pose serious barriers to quality health care for undocumented foreign-born Hispanics in the United States, say researchers who called for improved health systems for all immigrants.

The study authors analyzed data from the 2007 Pew Hispanic Center/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Latino Health Survey of more than 4,000 Hispanic adults across the United States. The researchers examined differences in perceived quality of care, receipt of preventive care, and usual source of health care among foreign-born, U.S.-born, permanent-resident and undocumented Hispanics.

Compared with those who were born in the United States, undocumented Hispanics were more likely to be uninsured, less likely to have a usual source of health care, less likely to have blood pressure and cholesterol checks, less likely to report receiving good health care in the past year, and more likely to report receiving no health information from their doctor in the past year.

The survey also found that 45 percent of undocumented Hispanics believed they received poor quality health care because they couldn't afford to pay, 39 percent believed their poor health care was because of their ethnic background, and 48 percent thought they received poor health care because of their accent when speaking English.

The study was published in a special supplement to the Journal of General Internal Medicine, released online Oct. 28.

"These findings help increase our understanding of the diversity among Latinos and why reporting results by immigration status is important," wrote Dr. Michael Rodriguez and colleagues from the UCLA Department of Family Medicine and the Network for Multicultural Research on Health and Healthcare in Los Angeles.

"Policies supporting increased access to affordable, culturally and linguistically competent services could be beneficial to improve quality of health care among Latinos," the study authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about Hispanics and health disparities.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of General Internal Medicine, news release, Oct. 28, 2009

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