Study Finds Lower Use of EDs by Undocumented Immigrants

CAL/AAEM News Service calaaem_news at
Thu Dec 27 10:27:30 PST 2007

Study Finds Lower Use of EDs by Undocumented Immigrants

Source: California Healthcare Foundation ( )
Date: November 27, 2007

Undocumented immigrants from Latin America are 50% less likely than U.S.-born Latinos to
visit emergency departments in California, according to a study published Monday in the
Archives of Internal Medicine, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

Researchers led by Alexander Ortega, an associate professor at the University of
California-Los Angeles School of Public Health, examined data from 42,044 responses to
the 2003 California Health Interview Survey, a randomized survey conducted by the UCLA
Center for Health Policy Research and the state Department of Public Health. 

Ortega and colleagues found that in addition to being less likely to have health
insurance, undocumented immigrants are less likely to visit a physician, clinic or ED. In
addition, after accounting for age, health status, insurance status and poverty level,
researchers found that undocumented immigrants still made fewer visits to physicians and
were 30% less likely than U.S.-born Latinos to have a consistent source of health care. 

Ortega said, "The current policy discourse that undocumented immigrants are a burden on
the public because they overuse public resources is not borne out with data, for either
primary care or emergency department care." He added, "In fact, they seem to be
underutilizing the system, given their health needs" (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 11/27). 

For more information, please visit:

Abid Mogannam &
Brian Potts MD, MBA
Managing Editors, CAL/AAEM News Service
University of California, Irvine

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