Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 416–421 | Cite as

A Universal Health Care System? Unmet Need for Medical Care Among Regular and Irregular Immigrants in Italy

  • Annalisa Busetta
  • Valeria Cetorelli
  • Ben Wilson
Original Paper


Italy has a universal health care system that covers, in principle, the whole resident population, irrespective of citizenship and legal status. This study calculates the prevalence of unmet need for medical care among Italian citizens, regular and irregular immigrants and estimates logistic regression models to assess whether differences by citizenship and legal status hold true once adjusting for potential confounders. The analysis is based on two Surveys on Income and Living Conditions of Italian households and households with foreigners. Controlling for various factors, the odds of experiencing unmet need for medical care are 27% higher for regular immigrants than for Italian citizens and 59% higher for irregular immigrants. The gaps by citizenship and legal status are even more striking among those with chronic illnesses. These results reveal the high vulnerability of immigrants in Italy and the need to develop more effective policies to achieve health care access for all residents.


Unmet need Health care access Immigrants Legal status Italy 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human and Animal Participants

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annalisa Busetta
    • 1
  • Valeria Cetorelli
    • 2
  • Ben Wilson
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Economics, Business and Statistics (SEAS)University of PalermoPalermoItaly
  2. 2.Department of International HealthJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of MethodologyLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK
  4. 4.Stockholm University Demography Unit (SUDA)Department of Sociology, Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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