This is what it’s like to be undocumented and uninsured
Staying healthy is a privilege, especially when you’re undocumented and uninsured.
Recent health care reforms in the U.S. have allowed more people to get insurance, but there is one group that remains in the shadows. We asked undocumented immigrants to tell us how being uninsured impacts them.
‘[It] would be a really great thing for me’
Luis, 42, works as a machinist in San Jose, CA. He told Fusion it’s tough for him to get regular check-ups to monitor his diabetes. He has been living in the U.S. for more than two decades and has two children, both U.S. citizens.
‘I’m not taking care of myself’
Celestino, 65, is a lifelong construction worker and currently a day laborer in San Jose, CA. He suffers from diabetes and would like to retire, but said he can’t afford to do so without social security benefits or subsidized health care.
‘He just got more and more sick’
Sara is a 36-year-old living in San Jose, CA. She and her husband are both undocumented, and while Sara has avoided major health problems, her husband hasn’t been so lucky. Fear of being discovered as undocumented, she said, caused her husband’s health to deteriorate.
‘If she’d just gotten the care she needed...'
Madison, 21, migrated with her family from the Philippines to Los Angeles at the age of seven. Her mother, who was uninsured, passed away several years ago. She currently attends UC Santa Barbara, where she is majoring in Asian American Studies and is heavily involved in the immigrant rights movement with UPLIFT , an Asian and Pacific-Islander youth-led organizing group.
‘She just lost all faith in the system’
Jasmin, 30, is a writer based in Los Angeles, CA. Her family fled from El Salvador during the Civil War in the 1980s. Fear of deportation, language barriers and working long, hard hours left her parents too tired and too embarrassed to ask critical questions about their health care.
‘You just endure’
Guillermina, 55, is a mother of seven in San Jose, CA. She works as a cook at Chuck E. Cheese’s, a position she has held for 17 years. She opted out of an employee health plan because she said she couldn’t afford the monthly paycheck deductions, which were higher than what she typically pays out-of-pocket for emergency room visits and prescription refills.
‘In pain for almost a year’
Adalhi, 24, immigrated from Mexico when he was 7 years old. Before gaining temporary legal status in 2013, he suffered a serious leg injury. He eventually got the treatment he needed, but only after going from clinic to clinic in Long Beach, CA, and using up all the money his mother had saved up for his college.