US immigration policy changes may affect health care use among Latinx children. We hypothesized that January 2017 restrictive immigration executive actions would lead to decreased health care use among Latinx children.
We used controlled interrupted time series to estimate the effect of executive actions on outpatient cancellation or no-show rates from October 2016 to March 2017 (“immigration action period”) among Latinx children in 4 health care systems in North Carolina. We included control groups of (1) non-Latinx children and (2) Latinx children from the same period in the previous year (“control period”) to account for natural trends such as seasonality.
In the immigration action period, 114 627 children contributed 314 092 appointments. In the control period, 107 657 children contributed 295 993 appointments. Relative to the control period, there was an immediate 5.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.40%–10.9%) decrease in cancellation rates among all Latinx children, but no sustained change in trend of cancellations and no change in no-show rates after executive immigration actions. Among uninsured Latinx children, there was an immediate 12.7% (95% CI: 2.3%–23.1%) decrease in cancellations; however, cancellations then increased by 2.4% (95% CI: 0.89%–3.9%) per week after immigration actions, an absolute increase of 15.5 cancellations per 100 appointments made.
There was a sustained increase in cancellations among uninsured Latinx children after immigration actions, suggesting decreased health care use among uninsured Latinx children. Continued monitoring of effects of immigration policy on child health is needed, along with measures to ensure that all children receive necessary health care.