Mexican, Latin American Immigrants Lacking in Health Coverage, Despite Contributions to the U.S. Work Force, Study Finds
While Latin American and Mexican immigrants account for a large portion of the U.S. work force and often work in dangerous occupations, they also typically are not offered health insurance by their employers, according to a report released Monday to coincide with the Binational Health Week and the Binational Policy Forum on Migration and Health, the Contra Costa Times reports. The report was conducted by researchers from the University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health, the University of California-Los Angeles School of Public Health and the Health Initiative of the Americas, a program of the UC Office of the President.
According to the Times, Mexican immigrants make up about one-third of the U.S. population and are likely to be employed at low-wage jobs and have little or no health insurance. Most of the jobs are in potentially dangerous fields, such as farming and construction, and Mexican immigrants account for 44% of immigrant workers who die as a result of an on-the-job injury, according to the report.
The report found that Latin American immigrants are in better overall health than most non-Hispanic whites, but their health worsens the longer they reside in the U.S. Researchers linked the declining health among Latin American immigrants to poor access to health care services and a lack of funds to pay for treatment and prevention.
Xochitl Castaneda, director of the Health Initiative of the Americas, said, "What this report is showing, unfortunately, is that immigrants and those who come from Mexico and Latin American countries are absorbing the most difficult jobs and are facing the highest job-related deaths."
Steven Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said, "Despite taking the large number of dangerous jobs in the country, (immigrants) are not offered the basic necessities such as health insurance, where they are literally putting their life on the line" (Terry-Cobo, Contra Costa Times, 10/23).
The study is available online (.pdf).