Immigrant healthcare in the United States

Immigrant health care in the United States is very different from citizen health care according to various social and economic factors as well as current health policies. Therefore, in addition to managing the physical and emotional strains of making cultural evolution immigrant families usually find themselves in an increasingly hostile social and political environment. Although they are called immigrants only, they are in essence noncitizen, which includes foreign students, migrant workers, permanent legal residents, and those without legal documentation.  In addition it is predicted that this number will continue to increase in the next decade, with the country’s Southeastern and Mountain regions’ immigrant populations growing especially rapidly. Immigrants, on average, use less than half the dollar amount of health care services that American-born citizens use.

In addition to its impact on the country’s labor market, this rise in the immigrant population has had a disparate impact on the United States’ health care system and its surrounding discourse. The health care system in the United States is made up of both public and private insurance agencies, with the private companies providing more insurance coverage than public companies.  In spite of this the federal government remains indispensable because of its role in the evaluation of public health benefits for instance, Medicaid, the United States health program for families and individuals of low income. Although Medicaid previously serviced immigrants, welfare reform policies such as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996 implemented stricter conditions for eligibility.

This piece of legislation mostly changed responsibility for immigrant health care from the federal government to the state and local levels. However, its impacts are different in different states.  Generally, the provisions the  prevention of  immigrants from accessing federal benefits like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program until after they have held lawful permanent residency for five years except in cases of emergency. For this , some states have implemented their own programs expanding health coverage to immigrants and other low-income groups; among these include states of Illinois, New York, the District of Columbia, and some counties in California. In some areas like Washington D.C., uninsured immigrants receive outpatient care from public clinics and community health centers.

These services are not the same everywhere with some providing the same coverage as Medicaid or SCHIP, while others limit coverage to specific categories of immigrants. Conversely, other states like Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Virginia, have implemented laws that further restrict noncitizens’ access to health care. Legislation of similar nature includes the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which requires proof of identity and U.S. citizenship from all those applying for/renewing Medicaid coverage. Overall, analyses indicate that after factors such as health status, income, and race/ethnicity are controlled for, citizenship status plays a significant role in determining one’s medical care access.

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