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The authors declare that they have no competing interest.
The four authors made substantial contributions to conception and design, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting of the manuscript, and final approval of the version to be published. BC developed the study design, conducted the analysis and drafted the manuscript. HT participated in the design, analysis, interpretation and drafting of this paper. KP participated in the design, analysis, interpretation and drafting of this paper. JG participated in the design, interpretation and drafting of this paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
International 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.
Data 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.
There 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.
There were significant associations between SES, and access to and use of healthcare among immigrants in Chile and a higher prevalence of no health care provision entitlement among poor and disabled immigrants compared to the Chilean-born. Changing associations between access and use of healthcare and SES among immigrants in Chile over time may reflect changes in their socio-demographic composition or in the survey methodology between 2006 and 2009.