The effect of fear on access to care among undocumented Latino immigrants

J Immigr Health. 2001 Jul;3(3):151-6. doi: 10.1023/A:1011389105821.


The passage of California's Proposition 187 in 1994 intensified debate over health care access for the undocumented population. Under Proposition 187, physicians would have been required to report the undocumented immigrants to immigration authorities. Even before 187, some undocumented may have been wary to come in contact with the medical care system. This paper examines whether concerns about one's immigration status serves as a deterrent to seeking care. These concerns may be resurfacing, with changes under the 1996 welfare reform legislation and related amendments that affect eligibility of non-citizen immigrants for public programs and states' ability to provide care to undocumented immigrants. Therefore, representative in-person surveys of undocumented Latinos were conducted in Houston, El Paso, Fresno, and Los Angeles in neighborhoods with significant concentrations of Latinos. It was found that 39% of the undocumented adult immigrants expressed fear about receiving medical services because of undocumented status. Those reporting fear were likelier to report inability acquiring medical and dental care, prescription drugs, and eyeglasses. Hence it can be concluded that concern about immigration status decreases the likelihood of receiving care.