The Importance of Country of Origin for Health Service Utilization Among Immigrants in the United States


Christina A. Nguyen, Harvard College ‘15


This study investigates the impact that country of origin has on immigrants’ utilization of health care services, operationalized by physician visits. Country of origin captures how cultural factors and different health care systems may shape immigrants’ health care behaviors that are carried over to the United States. I use data from the New Immigrant Survey, focusing on immigrants from China, India, Mexico, El Salvador, and the Philippines. The odds of visiting a physician are lowest among immigrants from the Philippines and China. The odds of visiting a physician in the U.S. are higher for immigrants from countries with higher total population, physician density, and health expenditures as expected, but slightly lower for those from countries with higher gross domestic products (GDP). Language barriers, fear of discrimination, and lack of information may deter certain immigrant groups from seeking care in the U.S. even when they need it. My findings show that efforts to increase full participation in the American health care system should be targeted at immigrants from the Philippines.

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