Health care access, use of services, and experiences among undocumented Mexicans and other Latinos

Arch Intern Med. 2007 Nov 26;167(21):2354-60. doi: 10.1001/archinte.167.21.2354.


Background: We compared access to health care, use of services, and health care experiences for Mexicans and other Latinos by citizenship and immigrant authorization status.

Methods: We acquired data from the 2003 California Health Interview Survey, with 42,044 participants representative of noninstitutionalized households. Participants were differentiated by ethnicity/race, national origin, and citizenship/immigration authorization status. Outcome measures included having a usual source of care, problems in obtaining necessary care, use of physician and emergency department care, and 3 experiences with health care. Multivariate analyses measured the associations of citizenship/immigration authorization status with the outcome measures among foreign-born Mexicans and other Latinos vs their US-born counterparts.

Results: In multivariate analyses, undocumented Mexicans had 1.6 fewer physician visits (P < .01); compared with US-born Mexicans; other undocumented Latinos had 2.1 fewer visits (P < .01) compared with their US-born counterparts. Both undocumented groups were less likely to report difficulty obtaining necessary health care than US-born Mexicans (odds ratio, 0.68; P < .01) and other US-born Latinos (odds ratio, 0.40; P < .01), respectively. Undocumented Mexicans were less likely to have a usual source of care (odds ratio, 0.70; P < .01) and were more likely to report negative experiences than US-born Mexicans (odds ratio, 1.93; P < .01). Findings were similar for other undocumented Latinos, with the exception of having a usual source of care. Patterns of access to and use of health care services tended to improve with changing legal status.

Conclusion: In this large sample, undocumented Mexicans and other undocumented Latinos reported less use of health care services and poorer experiences with care compared with their US-born counterparts, after adjustment for confounders in multivariate analyses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mexico / ethnology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data