UCLA Center for Health Policy Research studies California's Undocumented Population

May 8, 2014

According to a study conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, California’s undocumented immigrant population utilizes services at a dramatically lower rate than the average U.S. citizen. These findings contradict commonly held myths that the undocumented population drives up healthcare expenditures by excessive emergency department (ED) usage. The annual likelihood of an ED visit was 11% percent for undocumented adults as compared to 20% for US-born adults. When compared to US born children (2.8 visits annually) and adults (3.2 visits annually), undocumented children and adults reported a significantly lower number of annual doctor visits over the last year (2.3 for children and 1.7 for adults).

Undocumented individuals show markedly lower use of preventive cancer screening services than do US-born citizens. For example only 32% of undocumented adults over 50 had colorectal cancer screening as compared to 71% of US born citizens.

The authors from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research point to opportunities to provide the appropriate level of care through local initiatives, such as Healthy San Francisco and safety net providers, such as community clinics.