11 Eur. J. Health L. 245 (2004)
Access to Health Care for Illegal Immigrants in the EU: Should We be Concerned

handle is hein.journals/eurjhlb11 and id is 243 raw text is: European Journal of Health Law 11: 245-272, 2004. Published by Martinus Nijhoff  245
Publishers.  2004 Koninklijke Brill N. V. ISSN 0929-0273. Printed in the Netherlands.
Access to health care for illegal immigrants in the EU:
should we be concerned?
ROMAN ROMERO-ORTUNO*
Summary
The presence of illegal immigrants in EU countries is increasing despite consider-
able immigration policy efforts over the last years. EU Member States have
responded by strengthening their fight against illegal immigration, with different
multi-level measures that include the curtailment or denial of social security rights
such as access to publicly funded health care. Although significant differences
exist between Social Health Insurance and National Health Service countries with
regard to legislative provisions, access to health care for illegal immigrants is
generally limited to situations that are life threatening (emergencies) or pose a
risk to the public health (i.e. infectious diseases). In practice, strong barriers to
access exist even in those situations. Because health care needs of illegal immi-
grants are not being met, access to health care for this population should be an
issue of utmost concern to both policy makers and the public. National legislations
and implementation practices need to be upgraded in order to grant illegal immi-
grants effective access to health care, as mandated by Human Rights laws. That
is feasible and not necessarily incompatible with current immigration policies.

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