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Matern Child Health J. 2017 Dec;21(12):2153-2160. doi: 10.1007/s10995-017-2331-y.

Public Health Insurance and Health Care Utilization for Children in Immigrant Families.

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Department of Sociology and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University, 1812 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, IL, 60208, USA.
Department of Sociology and Institute for Health, Health Care Policy & Aging Research, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.


Objectives To estimate the impacts of public health insurance coverage on health care utilization and unmet health care needs for children in immigrant families. Methods We use survey data from National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) (2001-2005) linked to data from Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS) (2003-2007) for children with siblings in families headed by at least one immigrant parent. We use logit models with family fixed effects. Results Compared to their siblings with public insurance, uninsured children in immigrant families have higher odds of having no usual source of care, having no health care visits in a 2 year period, having high Emergency Department reliance, and having unmet health care needs. We find no statistically significant difference in the odds of having annual well-child visits. Conclusions for practice Previous research may have underestimated the impact of public health insurance for children in immigrant families. Children in immigrant families would likely benefit considerably from expansions of public health insurance eligibility to cover all children, including children without citizenship. Immigrant families that include both insured and uninsured children may benefit from additional referral and outreach efforts from health care providers to ensure that uninsured children have the same access to health care as their publicly-insured siblings.


Immigrant families; Public health insurance; Unmet health care needs

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