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Undocumented Latinos Use Fewer Health Care Services

Compared to U.S.-born Latinos, they report fewer visits but also less difficulty obtaining care

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Citizens of Mexico and other Latin American countries who are not legal U.S. residents are less likely to utilize U.S. medical services than their U.S.-born counterparts and more likely to report negative experiences with the health care system. But they are also less likely to report difficulty obtaining necessary health care, according to a study published in the Nov. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Alexander N. Ortega, Ph.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted multivariate analyses of data from the 2003 California Health Interview Survey on 42,044 state residents.

Compared to their U.S.-born counterparts, the researchers found that undocumented Mexicans had 1.6 fewer physician visits and that other undocumented Latinos had 2.1 fewer visits. The researchers also found that undocumented Mexicans were more likely to report negative experiences than U.S.-born Mexicans (odds ratio, 1.93). Both undocumented Mexicans and other undocumented Latinos were less likely to report difficulty obtaining needed care than their U.S.-born counterparts (OR, 0.68 and 0.40, respectively).

"The findings demonstrate that immigrant authorization status is an important determinant of health care access and patterns of use of services among Latinos," the authors conclude.

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