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“Undocumented Peoples’ Barriers to Healthcare Access”

Author: Soha Khatib

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement (IPCE)

Advisor: Samah Elhassan, Jane Adams School of Social Work, UIC

Abstract: Undocumented immigrants have no access to public services such as medicaid and cash assistance. This makes it harder for them to receive adequate and fairly priced health services. The aim of this study is to examine barriers undocumented people face in receiving access to healthcare, such as not qualifying for public services. In recent years there have been large steps made to increase American access to healthcare. This includes the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which enacted the Obamacare program. Although this was a large success in expanding access to healthcare for low-income communities, it has been over a decade and undocumented immigrants remain ineligible to apply. This research was conducted for two reasons. The first being that my father was a documented immigrant yet faced many barriers to finding stable income that provided benefits such as healthcare. According to Health Affairs, during COVID, undocumented people lacked access to preventative care which led to them only seeking medical care once it became a life threatning issue. This led to many deaths within the undocumented community. The second is that health services are more important now than ever, in the age of COVID-19. When conducting my research, I took a look at government programs and who qualifies for them, as well as looked at studies in which undocumented people discussed fears that they face in receiving health services, such as deportation. My research included systematic reviews of academic journals, peer reviewed articles, and meta-analysis that focused on documented and undocumented low income communities receiving healthcare benefits within the past 12 years. One of the studies highlights that four in ten undocumented people are uninsured (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2021). My policy recommendation is that undocumented immigrants should be eligible for these public services because healthcare is a human right; regardless of immigration status everyone should be entitled to health services. This can be done by expanding programs like Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors 65+ to cover all undocumented immigrants, regardless of age.

Keywords: Affordable Care Act of 2010, immigrant, undocumented, Medicare, Medicaid, low-income, health insurance, Obamacare, public health services, taxes