Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues
What to Expect


Many new immigrants to the United States don't have health insurance. Sometimes because their employer does not offer it or does at a high cost to the employee. Other times immigrants don't have it because of unsure legal status. Many see this as a reason not to see the doctor. 4 While it is true that many medical clinics require proof of insurance, there are many that don't. Some of these places are covered under Cost in another part of this website.

Hospital vs. Clinic

While it is true that hospital emergency rooms, called ERs, will not turn any person away in need of treatment, they are often not the best place to go for non-emergency situations. Treatment at an emergency room can cost many times more than that of a doctor's office for the same procedures. Yet 80% of immigrants with illegal status in the emergency room at one hospital in California were seen for routine procedures only. The number one reason stated for why they went to the ER instead of the doctor's office was a lack of money. 1

Many clinics today are low cost or free and have the added bonus of keeping the ERs free for emergencies. Many times there is also a long wait to be seen unless it is a life-threatening injury or illness because you can't make appointments to get in. Clinics can also have long waits with crowded waiting rooms, so it is best to call ahead and ask when their "off" hours are to avoid a long wait.

Another alternative is Urgent Care. These facilities are for people needing treatment right then, who don't have a serious threat to their health. Urgent Care centers are often the best place to go for non-life threatening injuries like broken bones, cuts and gouges, and illnesses. No appointment is needed and you can usually get in to see a doctor much faster than at a hospital. You can find local centers in the yellow pages or by asking at a hospital.

Dealing with Doctors

Many doctor's are rushed to see as many patients as possible in a day and this can make them seem rude. 6 Don't let a doctor's brisk behavior stop you from giving and getting the information you need. Be sure to tell the doctor all of the symptoms and what was done for them. Also make sure you understand all the instructions the doctor gives you about the treatment. This is especially true for patients using an interpreter! If possible, try to be seen when there are fewer people waiting to see the doctor so that he or she can give their full attention to you.


Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Kathleen Fischer in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2007.