U.S. Health Care System Does Not Adequately Accommodate Immigrants, Experts Say
The U.S. health care system does not adequately accommodate immigrants, who often are not aware of the programs for which they qualify and cannot find medical professionals who speak their language, according to experts, USA Today reports.
Sapna Pandya of the Center for Immigrant Health at New York University said, "When you call these numbers, let's say for Medicaid, you might get Spanish at the very best, but that's about it." She added, "And with hundreds of other languages that these immigrants speak, you don't have all of those covered." In addition, she said that the government should seek to help immigrants without an examination of their legal status because they pay sales taxes, as well as income and payroll taxes in many cases.
Liany Arroyo, director of the Institute for Hispanic Health at the National Council of La Raza, said that programs designed to provide immigrants with information about the health care system are difficult to establish and maintain. According to Arroyo, many immigrants decline to participate in such programs or share their contact information, and funds are limited. She said, "Funding is limited all around. Given the state of the economy, a lot of our cities and states are cutting back, so it becomes less popular to create these programs." However, she said that the lack of such programs increases risk for "not being able to contain epidemics in the future."
USA Today profiled an annual health care fair held last month at Pimmit Hills High School, an alternative school for immigrants ages 19 to 25 located in Falls Church, Va. The school hosts the fair to inform students about low- or no-cost health care options available in the area. Many of the children are married with children. School Principal Bud Mayo, said, "Most of these folks do not know the system. They get lost in the bureaucracy" (Der Bedrosian, USA Today, 3/17).