European Strategies for Providing Health Care for Migrants

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<p>In Europe and in the United States, health care for migrants—particularly those who lack documentation—is a highly politicized topic. The debate involves ethical and humanitarian concerns, potential public health issues such as the treatment of communicable disease, and the overall burden on the health care system. </p><p>An <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2012/dec/health-care-undocumented-migrants-european-approaches">issue brief</a> published today by The Commonwealth Fund examines approaches to health care for undocumented migrants taken by various European countries. While undocumented migrants are granted the right to health care under legal conventions adopted by the European Union, there is considerable variation in policy and practice among countries. Strategies vary along three dimensions: 1) subcategories of the population covered—for example, detained undocumented migrants, asylum seekers, children, victims, refugees; 2) types of services covered, ranging from emergency care to a full range of services; and 3) types of funding arrangements—for example, separate funding, full coverage by the national health system, or allowing individuals to purchase insurance coverage in the statutory system. </p>
<p>"The myriad policies in Europe could provide a tool box for the U.S.," the authors conclude, "but experience in Europe shows that even with supportive policies, undocumented migrants often face formidable language, legal, cultural, and bureaucratic barriers to obtaining care." </p>