Access to health care for illegal immigrants in the EU: Should we be concerned?

  • Romero-Ortuño R
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The presence of illegal immigrants in EU countries is increasing despite considerable immigration policy efforts over the last years. EU Member States have responded by strengthening their fight against illegal immigration, with different multi-level measures that include the curtailment or denial of social security rights such as access to publicly funded health care. Although significant differences exist between Social Health Insurance and National Health Service countries with regard to legislative provisions, access to health care for illegal immigrants is generally limited to situations that are life threatening (emergencies) or pose a risk to the public health (i.e. infectious diseases). In practice, strong barriers to access exist even in those situations. Because health care needs of illegal immigrants are not being met, access to health care for this population should be an issue of utmost concern to both policy makers and the public. National legislations and implementation practices need to be upgraded in order to grant illegal immigrants effective access to health care, as mandated by Human Rights laws. That is feasible and not necessarily incompatible with current immigration policies.

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  • Román Romero-Ortuño

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