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January 24/31, 2001

Health Insurance Status of Recent US Immigrants

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;285(4):410-411. doi:10.1001/jama.285.4.407

To the Editor: Dr Ayanian and colleagues1 state that a significant number of uninsured adults in the United States forgo needed medical attention. However, many of these uninsured persons are not US citizens. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report states that immigrants make up about 10% of the population, yet account for 20% to 25% of the uninsured population.2 A significant fraction of these immigrants are in the United States illegally. Legal immigrants are ineligible for Medicare for 5 years. Each legal immigrant must have a sponsor who pledges to provide support for 5 years so that the immigrant does not become a public charge. Even then, Medicaid still provides support for emergency situations.