Understanding differences in access and use of healthcare between international immigrants to Chile and the Chilean-born: a repeated cross-sectional population-based study in Chile

Báltica Beatriz Cabieses Valdes, Helena Tunstall, Kate Pickett, Jasmine Gideon

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ABSTRACT: IntroductionInternational evidence indicates consistently lower rates of access and use of healthcare by international immigrants. Factors associated with this phenomenon vary significantly depending on the context. Some research into the health of immigrants has been conducted in Latin America, mostly from a qualitative perspective. This population-based study is the first quantitative study to explore healthcare provision entitlement and use of healthcare services by immigrants in Chile and compare them to the Chilean-born.MethodsData come from the nationally representative CASEN (Socioeconomic characterization of the population in Chile) surveys, conducted in 2006 and 2009. Self-reported immigrants were compared to the Chilean-born, by demographic characteristics (age, sex, urban/rural, household composition, ethnicity), socioeconomic status (SES: education, household income, contractual status), healthcare provision entitlement (public, private, other, none), and use of primary services. Weighted descriptive, stratified and adjusted regression models were used to analyse factors associated with access to and use of healthcare.ResultsThere was an increase in self-reported immigrant status and in household income inequality among immigrants between 2006 and 2009. Over time there was a decrease in the rate of immigrants reporting no healthcare provision and an increase in reporting of private healthcare provision entitlement. Compared to the Chilean-born, immigrants reported higher rates of use of antenatal and gynaecological care, lower use of well-baby care, and no difference in the use of Pap smears or the number of attentions received in the last three months. Immigrants in the bottom income quintile were four times more likely to report no healthcare provision than their equivalent Chilean-born group (with different health needs, i.e. vertical inequity). Disabled immigrants were more likely to have no healthcare provision compared to the disabled Chilean-born (with similar health needs, i.e. horizontal inequity). Factors associated with immigrants access to, and use of, healthcare were sex, urban/rural status, education and country of origin.ConclusionThere were significant associations between SES, and access to and use of healthcare among immigrants in Chile, compared to the Chilean-born. These associations between access and use of healthcare and SES among immigrants in Chile may reflect changes in their socio-demographic composition over time, but also may reflect changes in the survey methodology between 2006 and 2009. These hypotheses need to be tested in future research in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Article number68
Pages (from-to)68
JournalInternational journal for equity in health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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