[Illegitimate patients: Undocumented immigrants' access to health care in Chile]

Salud Colect. Jul-Sep 2017;13(3):507-520. doi: 10.18294/sc.2017.1110.
[Article in Spanish]

Abstract

In recent decades, Chile has become a destination for immigrants from other South American countries, which has significantly impacted public services - particularly the public health system - at the economic, social, and cultural levels. The aim of this paper is to provide substantiated information on issues concerning undocumented immigrants' access to health care in Chile. A qualitative methodology, fundamentally an ethnography of the clinical setting, was used. Results were then analyzed in relation to theories of power asymmetries and interethnic relations. The research results highlight the lack of compliance with existing regulations and the exercise of discretionary personal judgment as barriers to access. It is concluded that in Chile immigrants in general, and undocumented immigrants in particular, are considered to be illegitimate patients.

Chile se ha ido convirtiendo en un país de destino para las migraciones sudamericanas, las cuales generan un impacto en los servicios públicos, en particular en salud, a nivel económico, social y cultural. El objetivo de este artículo es aportar información documentada sobre los problemas de acceso a la salud de los inmigrantes indocumentados. Trabajamos desde una metodología cualitativa, basada principalmente en una etnografía del espacio clínico. Para el análisis de los resultados nos hemos basado en las teorías de las relaciones asimétricas de poder, así como en las de las relaciones interétnicas. En los resultados de la investigación, se destaca el incumplimiento de la normativa y el ejercicio del criterio personal discrecional como barreras en el acceso. Concluimos que, en Chile, los inmigrantes en general e indocumentados, en particular, son considerados pacientes ilegítimos.

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Chile
  • Health Services Accessibility* / ethics
  • Health Services Accessibility* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Healthcare Disparities* / ethics
  • Healthcare Disparities* / ethnology
  • Healthcare Disparities* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Patient Rights
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Discrimination / ethics
  • Social Discrimination / ethnology
  • Social Discrimination / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Undocumented Immigrants*