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Open Access Research

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

Baltica Cabieses12*, Helena Tunstall3, Kate E Pickett2 and Jasmine Gideon4

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine Universidad del Desarrollo, Avenida Las Condes 12.438 Lo Barnechea, Santiago, Chile

2 Department of Health Sciences, University of York, Seebohm Rowntree Building, Area 3, York, YO10 5DD, England

3 University of Edinburgh, Geography Building, Drummond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP, Scotland

4 London International Development Centre, Birkbeck College, 36 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD, England

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International Journal for Equity in Health 2012, 11:68  doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-68

Published: 16 November 2012

Abstract

Introduction

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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.

Resumen

Introducción

La evidencia internacional indica menor acceso y uso de servicios de salud por parte de inmigrantes, pero sus factores desencadenantes varían significativamente dependiendo del contexto. Algunas investigaciones se han desarrollado en este tema en América Latina, desde una perspectiva cualitativa. Este estudio cuantitativo exploró el auto-reporte de acceso y uso de servicios de salud de inmigrantes en Chile y los comparó con la población chilena.

Métodos

Análisis secundario de datos de encuesta nacional CASEN 2006 y 2009. Inmigrantes fueron comparados con chilenos en características demográficas (edad, sexo, urbano/rural, composición del hogar, etnia), estatus socioeconómico (educación, ingreso, situación contractual), tipo de previsión (pública, privada, otra, ninguna), y uso de varios servicios de atención primaria. Análisis descriptivo, estratificado, y modelos de regresión ponderados para entender factores asociados al acceso y uso de servicios de salud en STATA 11.0.

Resultados

Se observó un aumento de reporte de inmigrantes y de la desigualdad en el ingreso de inmigrantes entre 2006 y 2009. Hubo una disminución en la tasa de inmigrantes sin previsión y un aumento en el acceso al sistema privado. Los inmigrantes usaron más frecuentemente la atención prenatal y ginecológica, y menos la atención del niño sano. No hubo diferencia en el uso de citología vaginal o el número total de atenciones recibidas en comparación con los chilenos. Los inmigrantes en el quintil inferior de ingresos reportaron 4 veces más la ausencia de prestación de salud que los chilenos (inequidad vertical). Similares resultados se observaron al comparar inmigrantes con discapacidad con chilenos con discapacidad (inequidad horizontal). Los factores asociados con el acceso y uso del servicio de salud por parte de los inmigrantes fueron el sexo, urbano/rural, educación y país de origen.

Conclusión

Se observó una asociación significativa entre estatus socioeconomico, migración y acceso y uso de asistencia sanitaria. Los resultados de este estudio pueden deberse a verdaderos cambios en la composición de los inmigrantes y sus patrones de uso del sistema de salud chileno, pero también pueden deberse a cambios en la metodología y recolección de datos entre encuestas 2006 y 2009. Este aspecto requiere mayor análisis y debate en la región.

Keywords:
Migration; Healthcare utilization; Access to healthcare; Latin America; Chile; Healthcare inequity; Population-based study; Cross-sectional design; Migración; Utilización de asistencia sanitaria; Acceso a servicios de salud; América Latina; Chile; Inequidad en atención sanitaria; Estudio de base poblacional; Diseño transversal