How Are Immigrants Faring After Welfare Reform?. Health Status and Insurance Coverage

03/04/2002

  • Immigrants and their children tended to report somewhat poorer health status than members of native citizen families. Other research, however, suggests that part of the difference might be caused by cultural differences in reporting and perceptions, rather than due to clinical differences.
  • In Los Angeles, 40 percent of noncitizen children and 22 percent of citizen children in immigrant families are uninsured, compared with about 6 percent in native citizen families in California. In New York City, 28 percent of noncitizen children and 8 percent of citizen children in immigrant families are uninsured, compared with 6 percent of children in native citizen families in New York State.
  • Noncitizen children with legal permanent resident parents are more likely to be uninsured than citizen children in LPR families (55 versus 22 percent in Los Angeles and 32 versus 15 percent in New York City).
  • A key factor in the difference in children's insurance profiles between the two cities is that immigrant children are far more likely to have coverage through New York's State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) than through California's SCHIP Program, Child Health Plus. Both states extend coverage to legal immigrant children in their programs, but the New York program was established several years earlier and has much larger overall enrollment levels that include immigrant children.
  • Forty-two percent of immigrant adults in Los Angeles and 38 percent in New York City lack health insurance coverage. These rates of uninsurance are roughly triple those for native citizens in New York State and California. The primary reason for this gap is that immigrants are less likely to have job-based health insurance coverage. They are, however, as likely as natives to be enrolled in Medicaid.
  • About two-thirds of elderly immigrants are covered by Medicare. While Medicare has brought almost universal insurance coverage to most native citizen elders, a significant share of elderly immigrants are not eligible because of residency rules or because they do not have enough years of credited work experience in the United States. Thus, elderly immigrants are more reliant on Medicaid.

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