Health equity in the U.S. remains an economic, social, and political issue. If there is any small silver lining in COVID-19’s dark clouds, it is that the pandemic has beckoned us as citizens to reflect on our society’s common denominator: our health.
COVID-19 has also confirmed our reliance on essential workers, many whom are immigrants who continue to provide critical services while most of us safely shelter in place. Why then are accessibility and availability of healthcare still such a barrier for our immigrant communities?
The answer is the lack of immigration reform coupled with increasingly restrictive immigration policies have created huge gaps in care for immigrants. Notwithstanding the efforts of the Obama administration, the fact is that access and quality of healthcare persist. Nowhere are the inequities more visible than among immigrant families that are often made up of mixed status households. Due to the lack of a comprehensive immigration reform, many immigrant households are fragmented not only by their immigration status but also by their accessibility to healthcare.
Bottom line: Immigrants continue to have limited access, if at all, and lower quality of care than majority of Americans. Recent Studies already predict that COVID-19 will most likely disproportionately impact immigrant communities.
Like many past epidemics and pandemics, social and economic factors sharply influence COVID-19’s infection rates and health outcomes. Consequently, low-income and vulnerable populations will continue to be disproportionately affected. At-risk populations, and particularly immigrants who often work in lower paying jobs with no employer sponsored health care, have higher rates of co-morbidities. Healthcare insurance and affordable access is critical for supporting the growing needs of our current public health crisis. How state and local governments respond to increased restrictive federal legislation can either widen the gap or improve health equity within immigrant communities.
Immigrants have limited access, if at all, and lower quality of care than majority of Americans.