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Advocates Say Undocumented Individuals Need Access To Health Care


Every day, those without health insurance seek medical care at hospitals, community health centers and clinics across Connecticut. And once they’ve been treated, financial counselors typically try to enroll them in some form of insurance program.
But in places like Danbury, where there is a large immigrant population, health providers know that some of these new patients face an extra barrier — their undocumented status.
Recognizing this, health professionals and advocates across the region are working together to make sure undocumented immigrants have access to health care — partly because they see it as moral responsibility, but also because it affects the health of the entire community.
“These individuals are graduating from our schools, working in our workforce, sustaining our local economy and are contributing to the community in multiple ways,” said Ingrid Alvarez, of New Fairfield, the Connecticut director of the Hispanic Federation, a nonprofit organization that works in 15 states. “Without access to preventive health care, without the opportunity for people to stay proactively healthy, then we are all at risk.”
Connecticut is home to an estimated 100,000 undocumented immigrants. At the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury, visitors ask daily about access to affordable health care, said Executive Director Andrea Contreras.
Some undocumented immigrants are able to obtain health insurance through their employers, but none are allowed to buy insurance on the state exchange, Access Health CT, even at full price. So when a medical catastrophe occurs, it can leave an undocumented immigrant or family with astronomical medical bills.
“Most undocumented immigrants have no access to health insurance, so they wait until things get so bad that they have to go to the emergency room,” said Carolina Bortolleto, 27, an undocumented immigrant who moved to Danbury with her family 18 years ago. “Then the medical bills pile up for everyone involved.”
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