Health Care Access Not Easy for Undocumented Immigrants

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Health Care Access Not Easy for Undocumented Immigrants
Health Care Access Not Easy for Undocumented Immigrants

MONDAY, Feb. 6, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- New research, published online Feb. 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine, offers insights into the medical plights facing undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Lilia Cervantes, M.D., of Denver Health, and colleagues interviewed 20 undocumented immigrants who are only able to undergo dialysis once a week, via an emergency department, when they're critically ill.

In some cases, the emergency department patients get dialysis on a Monday "when they're short of breath and feel like they're drowning," Cervantes told HealthDay. They leave the next day and feel fairly well for a couple days, she said, but by Friday, "they're feeling really sick again, nauseous, short of breath." By Saturday, they're in bed, and by Sunday, "they're at death's door, but they don't go to the hospital because they feel like they're not sick enough and won't be treated after a five-hour wait. Instead, they come in on Monday when they can barely move."

In the second study, published as a research letter, Nathan Gray, M.D., of the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., sent surveys to 230 hospices in the United States and received answers from 179 about whether they treat undocumented immigrants. Nine percent (16) said they don't accept them, and nearly 24 percent (42) said their enrollment is restricted. The rest, 68 percent (121) said they don't restrict undocumented immigrants. According to the researchers, Medicare doesn't cover hospice care for undocumented immigrants.

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