Canada, US Immigrants Have Less Health Care Access Than Natives

Release Date: September 2, 2010 | By Sylviane Duval, Contributing Writer
Research Source:

In spite of Canada’s universal medical coverage, immigrants to that country have less access to health care than native-born Canadians for certain procedures, a new study finds. In fact, immigrants have about the same access as immigrants to the United States who depend on private health insurance or Medicaid and who have less access than native-born Americans.

Canada and the United States take in a large number of immigrants every year. Even though the health systems in each country differ vastly, the study gives policymakers on both sides of the border an opportunity to examine what works, what the other side is doing better and how to improve overall performance for its newest arrivals.

The study appears online in the journal Health Services Research.

Although raw data showed that immigrants to Canada had better access to medical and dental care than immigrants to the United States, most of the differences evaporated once researchers factored in demographics, socioeconomic status and insurance coverage. Nonetheless, some surprises remain: Fewer immigrants to Canada have Pap tests than native-born Canadians or immigrants to the United States, but fewer U.S. immigrants have a regular doctor or an annual health consultation compared to native-born Americans.

Lead study author Lydie Lebrun, of Johns Hopkins University, said that targeted Pap screening programs in the United States might be part of the reason. In addition, the United States receives more Hispanic immigrants and Canada receives more Asian immigrants. Hispanic immigrants have more children, bringing them into contact with the health care system more often.

Walter Wodchis, Ph.D., of the Health System Performance Research Network said the research demonstrates that insurance alone cannot guarantee access to care. Aspects of medical care, such as the acceptability of Western medical procedures ? especially for such personal procedures as Pap tests ? could remain as important barriers and highlight the need for culturally sensitive approaches.

# # #


FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Reach the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, at (202) 387-2829 or hbns-editor@cfah.org

Health Services Research is the official journal of the AcademyHealth and is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. on behalf of the Health Research and Educational Trust. For information, contact Jennifer Shaw, HSR Business Manager at (312) 422-2646 or jshaw@aha.org. HSR is available online at www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/hesr.

Lebrun LA, Dubay LC. Access to primary and preventive care among foreign-born adults in Canada and the United States. Health Services Research online, 2010.

Tags for this article:
Health Disparities   Health Care Access   Find Good Health Care  



Comments on this article
Please note: CFAH reserves the right to moderate all comments posted to the Health Behavior News Service. Any inappropriate postings will be removed.

No comments have been entered yet.