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Undocumented Hispanics Less Likely to Use U.S. Health Care Services

Study finds they typically cut back on physician visits

TUESDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Undocumented Mexican/Hispanics in the United States are less likely to use health care services and report poorer health care system experiences than U.S.-born Mexicans/Hispanics, a U.S. study says

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed data from a 2003 telephone survey of more than 42,000 Californians.

They found that 1,317 respondents were undocumented Mexicans, 2,851 were U.S.-born Mexicans; 271 were undocumented Hispanics from other countries, and 852 were other Hispanics born in the United States.

The survey data revealed that undocumented Mexicans had 1.6 fewer physician visits in the previous year than U.S.-born Mexicans, while other undocumented Hispanics had 2.1 fewer physician visits than their U.S.-born counterparts.

The researchers also found that undocumented Mexicans were less likely to have a usual source of care and were more likely to report negative health care experiences than U.S.-born Mexicans.

When their status changed from undocumented to holding a "Green Card," Mexican/Hispanic patterns of access to and use of health care services tended to improve, the study said.

When questioned, undocumented Hispanics believed they actually had less difficulty obtaining necessary health care than U.S.-born Hispanics. This finding may have occurred, because undocumented Hispanics are less likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to seek out care, or because the U.S. health care system compares favorably to the health systems in their home countries, the study authors speculated.

The study was published in the Nov. 26 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about Hispanic-American health.


-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Nov. 26, 2007

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