1.5 Million Immigrant Children Lack Health Insurance

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Nearly one in four children of Mexican immigrants residing in the United States does not have health insurance. That’s the conclusion of a new study presented in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this week. The study, a collaborative effort of Mexico’s National Population Council (Conapo) in conjunction with the University of California and the Health Initiative of the Americas, found that 1.5 million of 6.3 million children of Mexican immigrants in the US lack health insurance coverage.

The offspring of Mexican immigrants are three times more likely to not have health insurance than other children living in the US, according to the study, which also reported that 86 percent of the uninsured children are US citizens.

Although 52 percent of the uninsured minors use public hospitals when they become sick, the study found that Mexican immigrant children are less likely to use such institutions than other US children, including whites. Another key finding of the study was that children of Mexican immigrants under three years of age have the highest obesity rates and are more likely to suffer anemia than children of whites.

Migratory and socio-economic factors were blamed for the disparities.

“There is broad inequity in health services for minors under 18 in the US,” said Mexico’s Interior Ministry, in response to the report.

The Conapo/UC study was among the highlights of the ninth annual Binational Policy Forum on Migration and Health hosted by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson in Santa Fe on October 5 and 6 of this year.

The event was attended by Mexican First Lady Margarita Zavala and Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova. Top health officials from several Central and South American nations were also invited participants.

Amalia Garcia, governor of the central Mexican state of Zacatecas, one of the country’s top migrant-sending entities, was among the officials who addressed the gathering. Lauding the inter-hemispheric health initiative, Gov. Garcia exhorted authorities to continue seeking ways to guarantee health care rights for migrants.

Sources: La Jornada, October 8, 2009. Article by Fabiola Martinez. El Sol de Mexico, October 8, 2009. Article by Manrique Gandaria. El Sol de Zacatecas, October 7, 2009. Office of the Governor (New Mexico), September 25, 2009. Press release.


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