Health care for undocumented immigrants in Texas: past, present, and future

Tex Med. 2014 Jul 1;110(7):e1.


Providing health care to the 1.6 million undocumented immigrants in Texas is an existing challenge. Despite continued growth of this vulnerable population, legislation between 1986 and 2013 has made it more difficult for states to provide adequate and cost-effective care. As this population ages and develops chronic illnesses, Texas physicians, health care administrators, and legislators will be facing a major challenge. New legislation, such as the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform, does not address or attempt to solve the issue of providing health care to this population. One example of inadequate care and poor resource allocation is the experience of undocumented immigrants with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). In Texas, these immigrants depend on safety net hospital systems for dialysis treatments. Often, treatments are provided only when their conditions become an emergency, typically at a higher cost, with worse outcomes. This article reviews the legislation regarding health care for undocumented immigrants, particularly those with chronic illnesses such as ESRD, and details specific challenges facing Texas physicians in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Medically Uninsured / statistics & numerical data*
  • Renal Dialysis / statistics & numerical data
  • Texas
  • Vulnerable Populations / statistics & numerical data*