Those of us who’ve had accessible health insurance most of our lives have not had to face the dilemma of what to do when you’re seriously sick or injured. We head for our healthcare provider’s office, an urgent care center or an emergency room. Do we think of health insurance as a privilege? Often not.
But around us, people live and work who cannot fathom paying hundreds of dollars for a medical office visit or ER treatment. In the case of undocumented immigrants, there is no equity in healthcare.
Natalie Knight, MSN, RN, CMSRN, writes in the newly released Journal of Christian Nursing issue about this precarious situation where more than 11 million people in the United States are stuck. Whether the undocumented individuals entered the country illegally or with legal paperwork that expired, they are surrounded by barriers that prevent them from seeking or receiving equitable care for infections, cardiac maladies, incessant pain, diabetes, asthma and more.
- Ineligibility for public aid through the Affordable Care Act
- Low paying jobs, often seasonal and transient
- Inaccessibility of higher education—no funding for educational possibilities
- Fear of deportation, resulting in chronic stress
- No sick leave from work
- Unstable work settings
- Language and culture differences
- Healthcare worker bias
God declares his affection for non-citizens throughout the Old Testament, directing his people to “treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34). Jesus asks us, his followers, to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind—and to love those around us the same way (Luke 10:27).
“Show mercy and compassion to one another. Don’t oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor,” God says in Zechariah 7:9-10.
When we love all those around us, advocating and caring for the needs of men, women, and children who are mostly hidden or ignored, we’re expressing our love for God himself.
Our national system of healthcare cannot change without we who are God’s people stepping forward.
- We can volunteer with or start a healthcare outreach for those who are unable to access healthcare resources in our own communities.
- We can inventory our personal biases and ask God to renovate our minds so we consider others—including immigrants who are denied healthcare—as valuable as we are.
- We can raise awareness at our healthcare places of work and with the providers who we see for our own care.
- We can partner with community and advocacy groups locally and higher, working toward policy changes to remove disparities in healthcare for at-risk people like undocumented immigrants.
Read “Advocating for Equitable Healthcare for the Undocumented Immigrant” in the new issue of JCN. Continuing education is available too.
Journal subscriptions and discounted CE are a few of the benefits you can gain by joining NCF.