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Citizenship Impacts Children’s Access to Health Care

Last Updated: July 13, 2021.

TUESDAY, July 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Noncitizen children face higher health harms compared with their siblings who have U.S. citizen status, according to a report published in the July issue of Health Affairs.

Mariellen Jewers, Ph.D., from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and colleagues isolated the impact of lack of citizenship from socioeconomic factors on health care access by comparing citizen and noncitizen siblings living in mixed-status families. The analysis included 8,405 children who were members of 2,832 unique mixed-status families participating in the 2008 to 2018 National Health Interview Survey.

The researchers found that lacking citizenship increased a child's risk for being uninsured and lowered by 26 percentage points the chances that they would have Medicaid or Children's Health Insurance Program coverage. Furthermore, the investigators observed significantly more delays in needed medical care because of cost among noncitizen children, primarily mediated by the lack of insurance coverage.

"California has eliminated immigration status as a factor in Medicaid eligibility, effectively extending coverage to all low-income children regardless of their immigration status. Federal policy should do the same," the authors write. "Ultimately, public health goals would be best served by providing public health insurance access to all low-income children, regardless of citizenship status."

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