The Choices Medical Professionals Have to Care for Undocumented Immigrants
The current political environment has affected the immigration status of many individuals. From DREAMers to those seeking asylum, many groups are experiencing uncertainty in their immigration status. This has created challenges for health care professionals who are trying to treat every patient with dignity and care. For undocumented immigrants, there are two options for treatment: remaining in the US or seeking healthcare in their home country. Here are the options for an individual with uncertain or undocumented status in the United States:
Treatment in the US
Many undocumented people lack health insurance because they are unable to participate in government exchanges or marketplaces. For many, there are two viable options for undocumented immigrants, especially those without health insurance: emergency services and free clinics or “safety-net” hospitals that provide services no matter the person’s status or ability to pay.
Emergency services cannot be refused because of a person’s ability to pay or status in the country. Since the 1990s, emergency services have steadily risen, not just because of undocumented individuals, but also the millions of uninsured individuals who opt out of preventive treatment due to the cost. While this often should be a last resort for individuals, it’s an unfortunate reality that this is sometimes the only option for a person who is unable to pay or lacks the coverage for basic health services.
However, beyond the emergency need, it can be challenging for those who are in the country illegally to find health care services. Often, it’s due to the fear of being asked about this status and have it recorded in a health record. While doctors and other health care providers generally are prohibited from sharing this status with law enforcement, many fear that law enforcement will be notified when seeking assistance.
This is why some states are pushing for waivers to apply funds to so-called “safety-net” hospitals, allowing these funds to be used for anyone who walks in the door. States like Texas and Florida with a high number of undocumented immigrants have seen the effects of having populations without access to quality health care.
Treatment in their Home Country
However, when deportation or return to the country of origin is imminent, it’s important for health care providers to coordinate with an organization that connects these patients to quality services in their home country. For undocumented people, this is a stressful situation, facing both international travel and a health crisis. Medical repatriation is the process of returning a person to their home country to receive treatment, often in an emergency. This can be done in several ways, including by helicopter service ( I would change this to ground and air ambulance). However, no matter the method of transport, it’s important for care to remain consistent and effective throughout the process.
Allista focuses on compassionate, humanitarian care for all those who are migrants or undocumented immigrants who are now seeking medical attention in their home country. If the individual did not receive proper care in the US or are now being deported and must seek immediate medical care, Allista partners with several healthcare providers (in Guadalajara, Mexico), and works with lawyers to ensure the proper process is followed for their care. Allista connects patients and providers to ensure their needs are met, including occupational health, pharmacy, emergency services, and much more.
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