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West J Med. 1991 April; 154(4): 414–417.
PMCID: PMC1002788

Access to medical care for documented and undocumented Latinos in a southern California county.


To determine local access to medical care among Latinos, we conducted telephone interviews with residents of Orange County, California. The survey replicated on a local level the national access surveys sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We compared access among Latino citizens of the United States (including permanent legal residents), undocumented Latinos, and Anglos, and analyzed predictors of access. Among the sample of 958 respondents were 137 Latino citizens, 54 undocumented Latinos, and 680 Anglos. Compared with Anglos, Latino citizens and undocumented immigrants had less access to medical care by all measures used in the survey. Although undocumented Latinos were less likely than Latino citizens to have health insurance, by most other measures their access did not differ significantly. By multivariate analysis, health insurance status and not ethnicity was the most important predictor of access. Because access to medical care is limited for both Latino citizens and undocumented immigrants, policy proposals to improve access for Latinos should consider current barriers faced by these groups and local differences in access to medical care.

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