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Author: Bass, Elizabeth
Paper: Health Insurance Coverage in America: Are Immigrants Different? (PDF) ; 2003

This research examines the determinants of health insurance coverage among non-elderly immigrants using data from the March 1996-2000 Supplements to the Current Population Survey. The hypothesis tested is that, ceteris paribus, immigrants have lower rates of health insurance that the native-born. A theoretical model of the demand for health insurance is developed and tested with probit and multinomial regressions that control for an extensive set of demographic, work-related and immigrant-related characteristics. Analysis reveals that at personal incomes of approximately $30,000 or more, immigrants' coverage odds are typically 10% lower than their native-born counterparts'. At lower income levels the nativity gap increases greatly, particularly for Mexican males. Income changes of up to $10,000 have little effect on coverage status regardless of nativity, a finding which supports previous literature that rejects the implementation of tax credits or vouchers to decrease the number of uninsured. The best coverage indicators for all adults are personal income, firm size, marital status and nativity. Longer stays in the United States and citizenship increase the odds that an immigrant has coverage, usually by 10%. Why, all other things equal, immigrants have less coverage is unclear.