The Health Care Burden of Being Illegal: Health Care Access and Use among Children of Mexican Immigrants

Deborah Roempke Graefe, Pennsylvania State University
Gordon F. De Jong, Pennsylvania State University

Little is known about the effects of immigrant documentation status on the health of Mexican parents and their children, although the growing U.S. Mexican-origin population often lacks health insurance coverage and reports no regular source of medical care. Our focus is on undocumented status to explain immigrant health care inequalities. Based on documentation status as a structural constraint, we expect that being illegal or having illegal parents will have a direct impact, independent of family human capital and assimilation indicators, on exacerbating the health care access and utilization inequalities of children of Mexican immigrants. Using the 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 longitudinal panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we compare health insurance coverage and routine annual medical and dental care of all children of Mexican immigrants, defined as children having at least one Mexican-immigrant parent, with children whose parents are U.S. born (i.e. third plus generation children).

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Presented in Session 215: Race, Ethnicity, Immigration and Children