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A comparison of the health status and health care utilization patterns between foreigners and the national population in Spain: new evidence from the Spanish National Health Survey

A comparison of the health status and health care utilization patterns between foreigners and the national population in Spain: new evidence from the Spanish National Health Survey

Social Science and Medicine 69(3): 370-378

ISSN/ISBN: 0277-9536

PMID: 19523727

DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.05.005

The increasing proportion of immigrants in Spanish society is placing pressure on the National Health Care System to accommodate the needs of this population group while keeping costs under control. In the year 2000, a law was approved in Spain according to which all people, regardless of their nationality, are entitled to use health care services under the same conditions as Spanish citizens, provided that they are registered in the local population census. However, empirical evidence about differences in health status and health care utilization between the immigrant and the Spanish population is insufficient. This paper uses the 2003 and 2006 Spanish National Health Surveys to explore the existence of inequalities in health and in the access to health services for the immigrant population living in Spain, relative to that of Spaniards. Our results show that there are different patterns in the level of health and the medical care use between the national and the foreign population in Spain: while immigrants' self-reported health relative to that of the Spanish population depends upon individual nationality, all immigrants, regardless of their nationality, seem to face barriers of entry to specialized care. Further research is needed to understand the nature of these barriers in order to design more effective health policies.

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Accession: 051113326

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