Policy brief from the James A. & Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research | Idaho at a Glance. November 2014, Vol. 5, No. 5 | Between fiscal years 2007 and 2014, roughly 7,700 refugees resettled in Idaho, representing a small fraction of all refugees arriving in the United States during that time.
In 2014, about 1,050 refugees resettled in Idaho, higher than the state’s 10-year average of 878 per year but below the peak of 1,214 in 2009. Refugees in Idaho are usually women and children who resettle in either the Boise or Twin Falls area. Refugees come to Idaho from several continents, bringing an array of languages, cultures, and religions. This report focuses on how refugees in Idaho engage in the healthcare system and the distinct health concerns they face. The following key findings are based on interviews with service providers, federal data, and literature reviews:
Refugees are more likely to present long-term, unmet health needs due to prolonged lack of care prior to their arrival in the U.S. The nature of these concerns often necessitates long-term care or extensive treatment, in turn generating high costs that may be unaffordable for those without health insurance.
Refugee access to healthcare is impeded by cost and cultural differences related to how refugees perceive health problems and healthcare.
Refugees who are not eligible for Idaho’s Medicaid program can receive medical coverage through the federally funded Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) program. Those who receive RMA typically lose their coverage after eight months but can re-apply.
Like other legal U.S. residents, refugees may not qualify to purchase subsidized health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace, depending on their income level.
Several agencies and organizations in Idaho aid refugees by increasing access and affordability of healthcare, especially through culturally appropriate care models.