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Limiting health‐care access to undocumented immigrants: A wise option?

Dolores Jiménez‐Rubio and Judit Vall Castello ()
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Dolores Jiménez Rubio ()

Health Economics, 2020, vol. 29, issue 8, 878-890

Abstract: The number of undocumented migrants in high‐income countries has increased in recent decades, imposing considerable political, fiscal, and social pressures on governments. This has fostered discussions on whether and to what extent undocumented migrants should get access to public programs and public benefits. Looking at the 2012 Spanish health reform, this is the first paper to document the impacts of a restriction on access to the health‐care system for undocumented migrants on health‐care utilization, health‐care system perceptions, and self‐reported health in a high‐income country. We show that such restrictions may significantly reduce planned care for undocumented migrants and result in sharp fall in positive opinions about the health‐care services still left available to them. We also exploit the heterogeneity in implementing the policy across regions and report stronger effects in regions that enforced the national ban more fully. Furthermore, in the first 3 years since the implementation of the reform, we find suggestive evidence of a worsening in self‐assessed health. This study is relevant for policymakers in the developed world, especially in countries that have recently implemented initiatives aimed at reducing the health‐care coverage for targeted groups, such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

Date: 2020
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