A Doctor When We Need One: Access to Healthcare in Wisconsin for Immigrant Children and Families

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Immigrants are a rapidly growing segment of the Wisconsin’s population. According to the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS), there are over 247,000 foreign born men, women, and children living in Wisconsin, and that number is growing each year. Many more families have mixed immigration status. The vast majority (86 percent) of children in immigrant families are U.S.-born citizens. However, 40 percent of children in immigrant families have at least one parent who is not a citizen. These community members have unique health care access challenges. Although there are some resources available to aid immigrant families in navigating the health system, access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care and information is not universally available in Wisconsin.

The vast majority of Wisconsin children are covered by health insurance. The state’s publicly funded insurance programs, Medicaid and BadgerCare, have succeeded in covering all but a small fraction of children in low-income families. And while health insurance is not the only factor in keeping children healthy, it plays a critical role in shielding families from potentially devastating financial risks while enabling them to access important preventive health care services.

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