Six out of 10 U.S. Hispanic illegal immigrants lack health insurance, more than twice the rate for legal Latino residents and citizens and three times the average for the population as a whole, a study released on Friday showed.
The survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, which drew on a nationally representative sample of 4,013 U.S. Latinos in 2007, found 60 percent of adult Hispanic illegal migrants lacked health insurance.
The study found that 28 percent of adult Hispanics who are either legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens go without health insurance, compared to 17 percent of the U.S. adult population as a whole.
As President Barack Obama pushes a controversial overhaul of the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system to cut costs, improve care and regulate insurers, Americans are divided over whether the 12 million mostly Hispanic illegal immigrants will get coverage.
Obama made explicit in his address to Congress earlier this month that the proposal, at a cost of nearly $1 trillion over 10 years, would expand coverage to 30 million Americans who are now uninsured, but would not cover illegal immigrants living and working in the shadows.
But some Republican critics do not believe him -- including Representative Joe Wilson who shouted You lie during Obama's speech when the president said illegal immigrants would not be covered by healthcare reform.
The Pew survey found that 41 percent of Hispanic illegal immigrants seek routine care at community clinics or health centers -- a safety net for the vulnerable funded by sources including federal and state governments and private foundations.
An additional 6 percent said they usually go to an emergency room when they are sick or in need of advice about their health. Emergency rooms are required by law to provide care to all patients, with Medicaid reimbursing any expenses that patients cannot afford.