The immigrant population, especially newly arrived persons and non-citizens, faces both language and cultural barriers to accessing health care services. Of the estimated 16.6 million foreign-born women in the U.S. in 2003, more than half (59.2 percent) were non-citizens (including documented and undocumented immigrants).1

In 2003, women without U.S. citizenship were more likely than naturalized citizens or women born in the U.S. to lack a usual source of care (26.1 percent) and to lack health insurance (45.5 percent). The percentage without insurance decreased as length of time in the U.S. increased, although this trend was more evident among certain racial and ethnic groups. Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women who had been in the U.S. for less than 5 years had the highest uninsurance rates in 2003 (61.7 and 64.5 percent, respectively).Foreign-born women were also less likely to have seen a health care professional within the last year. A greater proportion of non-citizen women (23.5 percent) had not seen a health professional in the past year compared to those born in the U.S. (8.6 percent).

Graph: Women Lacking a Usual Source of Care, Health Insurance and a Recent Visit with a Health Professional by Citizenship Status[d]

Graph: Foreign Born Women Without Health Insurance, by Length of Time in the US and Race/Ethnicity[d]

1 U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2003. August 2004.