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New England Journal of Medicine


Covid-19 has exposed weaknesses in the U.S. health system. The country faces shortages of personal protective equipment, tests, and ventilators. As emergency departments (EDs) and intensive care units brace for surges in volume, public health officials urge people with symptoms to stay home and call their doctor before seeking in-person medical care. Unfortunately, for many undocumented immigrants, calling their doctor is not an option. The Affordable Care Act excludes undocumented immigrants from eligibility for coverage, and an estimated 7.1 million undocumented immigrants lack health insurance. As a result, many undocumented immigrants do not have primary care providers (PCPs) and have had to rely on EDs for years. Telling people now to avoid EDs and call their doctors leaves those without PCPs in limbo. The Covid-19 epidemic has exposed the risk of limiting access to primary care for segments of the population, including undocumented immigrants.


Page, K. R., Venkataramani, M., Beyrer, C., & Polk, S. (2020). Undocumented US Immigrants and Covid-19. New England Journal of Medicine.


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