Breaking Down Barriers to Preventive Care

Image of a couple at a prenatal care appointment.

"In the years since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made it a national priority to decrease the number of uninsured Americans, nearly 18 million people have gained health insurance. While applauding that success, however, it’s easy to overlook the large group of people mostly left out of the health care reform effort: unauthorized immigrants.

"Many of them can’t afford to buy coverage on their own, and they’re ineligible for public assistance under Medicaid or ACA subsidies for low-income people. In California, which is home to about a quarter of the nation’s unauthorized immigrant population, an estimated 51% of them are uninsured. (Nationally, that figure is 41%, compared to 9% of U.S. citizens.)

"These immigrants often forgo preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases. When they do receive care they rely on a patchwork of charitable organizations, safety-net clinics, and hospital emergency rooms, where caregivers may find them more difficult to treat than had they been able to access routine care earlier. Where there are large numbers of uninsured people, these aren’t just humanitarian concerns; they also increase costs and inefficiencies in local health systems."

Blog: Immigration Policy Lab.

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