Background: U.S. healthcare disparities may be in part the result of differential experiences of discrimination in health care. Previous research about discrimination has focused on race/ethnicity. Because immigrants are clustered in certain racial and ethnic groups, failure to consider immigration status could distort race/ethnicity effects.
Objectives: We examined whether foreign-born persons are more likely to report discrimination in healthcare than U.S.-born persons in the same race/ethnic group, whether the immigration effect varies by race/ethnicity, and whether the immigration effect is "explained" by sociodemographic factors.
Research design: The authors conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the 2003 California Health Interview Survey consisting of 42,044 adult respondents. Logistic regression models use replicate weights to adjust for nonresponse and complex survey design.
Outcome measure: The outcome measure of this study was respondent reports that there was a time when they would have gotten better medical care if they had belonged to a different race or ethnic group.
Results: Seven percent of blacks and Latinos and 4% of Asians reported healthcare discrimination within the past 5 years. Immigrants were more likely to report discrimination than U.S.-born persons adjusting for race/ethnicity. For Asians, only the foreign-born were more likely than whites to report discrimination. For Latinos, increased perceptions of discrimination were attributable to sociodemographic factors for the U.S.-born but not for the foreign-born. Speaking a language other than English at home increased discrimination reports regardless of birthplace; private insurance was protective for the U.S.-born only.
Conclusions: Immigration status should be included in studies of healthcare disparities because nativity is a key determinant of discrimination experiences for Asians and Latinos.