Author: Smith, James ; Goldman, Dana ; Sood, Neeraj
Ongoing Project: Why do Immigrants Have Low Rates of Health Insurance?
Immigrants are a large and growing segment of the U.S. population and a disproportionately large number are uninsured. Several studies have documented a large disparity in the health insurance coverage between immigrants and natives, but our understanding of why this disparity exists is quite incomplete. An important new dataset -- the LA FANS study-- has detailed information on access and use of health care, the legal status, employment and migration histories, and health insurance history of Los Angeles residents, a large proportion of whom are immigrants. This will enable us to address several key gaps in this literature. These will include the role that is played by safety net providers and social-support networks. In addition, most of the prior work in this area has used summary measures of insurance and immigration status (primarily due to lack of data) that miss transient changes in coverage. For example, most of the prior work classifies persons as either currently insured or uninsured but does not make a distinction between the chronically uninsured and those who are uninsured temporarily to due change in employer or residence. Finally, knowledge of immigration and insurance histories will help us shed light on the issue of how much health care is likely to have been received in the United States and how much in the sending country.