An Urban School Based Comparative Study of Experiences and Perceptions Differentiating Public Health Insurance Eligible Immigrant Families with and without Coverage for their Children

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Abstract

Introduction

We explore why some low income immigrant families enroll in government financed health insurance plans for their children, while others also eligible do not enroll.

Methods

Our team conducted and analyzed audiotaped semi-structured interviews with families of 8 insured and 10 uninsured children focused on knowledge of and experience with seeking health insurance coverage.

Results

Common among families not enrolled in government sponsored plans were misperceptions about the insurance system, including a suspicion of the government monitoring them and/or lack of familiarity with the concept of insurance itself. Among families that did enroll, the predominant theme was the essential role of their sponsor, other kin or community in educating and assisting them with the application process.

Conclusions

Prior research has identified external obstacles to enrollment. Our findings indicate the additional importance of facilitating social support, particularly from sponsors in mentoring new arrivals through the process of seeking insurance coverage.

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