This policy brief explores the unique hurdles that Wisconsin’s immigrant families face when trying to navigate America’s complex health care system. It also shares ideas for enhancing access so that everyone — regardless of their native tongue, citizenship status or financial means — can receive timely, frustration-free medical care.
Immigrant families in Wisconsin face significant health care hurdles
Findings & Stats
Strategies for enhancing medical access among immigrant families include: 1) boosting funding for health care advocates that serve immigrant families; 2) working with immigrant communities to address cultural divides; and 3) expanding professional interpreter services.
One of the largest barriers to care for immigrant families? Language. In Wisconsin, 62% of children in immigrant families have parents who are not fluent in English. Despite this statistic, non-native speakers often struggle through appointments without the aid of a trained medical interpreter.
Select Immigrants Need Not Apply
Not all immigrants are considered equal, according to state and federal laws. Immigrants who typically do not qualify for benefits include: asylum applicants, seasonal agricultural workers, undocumented immigrants and individuals with temporary protected status.
The Financial Factor
Foreign-born individuals are far more likely than their U.S. counterparts to earn $25,000 or less. Small paychecks coupled with steep prices for private insurance mean that many immigrant families go without and put off medical care unless absolutely necessary.
Filling in the Gap
Wisconsin supports 17 Federal Qualified Health Centers that offer primary care on a sliding fee scale and regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. In 2009, these centers saw more than 240,000 individuals. A quarter of this population was uninsured, and one out of every three patients was a child. Experts applaud this medical model because it delivers a standard level of care that anyone can access — immigrants included.
Get word wise: This policy brief spells out the differences between five types of foreign-born people in the United States.
Statements & Quotations
People need health care, regardless of legal status.
Regardless of income, language, or citizenship status, kids need access to decent health care to grow up healthy and strong.
Amid the oftentimes contentious debate over immigration, individual children are sometimes forgotten.
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