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


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.

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Fig. 1

Source Authors’ analysis based on Istat (2009a) and Istat (2009b)

Fig. 2

Source Authors’ analysis based on Istat (2009a) and Istat (2009b)


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Correspondence to Annalisa Busetta.

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Busetta, A., Cetorelli, V. & Wilson, B. A Universal Health Care System? Unmet Need for Medical Care Among Regular and Irregular Immigrants in Italy. J Immigrant Minority Health 20, 416–421 (2018).

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