Immigrants and Refugees

Philadelphia Health Partnership strives to eliminate disparities in access based on national origin. In doing so, we support strategies that connect immigrants and refugees with quality care and services and increase their utilization.


Foreign-born residents in Philadelphia are diverse in their life experiences and circumstances: from refugees who left their home countries seeking freedom from persecution to immigrants who came to the United States pursuing educational and employment opportunities.

According to the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS):

  • 233,205 foreign-born residents live in Philadelphia County: 14.7% of the population.
  • 40.4% of foreign-born residents have entered the United States since 2010 or later.
  • 48.6% of foreign-born residents are not citizens.
  • 81,743 of children under the age of 18 in Philadelphia County have 1 or more foreign-born parent.

Many foreign-born residents thrive in Philadelphia County. Yet, low-income immigrants and refugees face unique barriers to accessing and utilizing quality care and services, particularly those who are not citizens.

  • The 2017 American Community Survey found that only 74.4% of non-citizens in Philadelphia County have health insurance compared to 92.9% of naturalized citizens and 94.4% of US-born citizens.
  • Nationally, the 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that 63% of non-citizen, low-income adults (below 200% of the federal poverty level) saw a medical professional in the past year versus 81% of U.S.-born, low-income adults.
  • According to the NHIS, only 56% of non-citizen, low-income children had a well-child check-up in the last year versus 84% of US-born, low-income children in citizen families (to read more NHIS analysis by Dr. Leighton Ku, click here).

In addition to facing challenges accessing health care coverage, foreign-born residents often struggle to navigate the health care system when they do seek care. Many providers do not have the capacity to bridge linguistic and cultural differences, limiting immigrants’ and refugees’ access to the information and resources needed to make appropriate health decisions. Fragmented systems also make it difficult for immigrants and refugees to connect with varied supports that promote well-being – from legal assistance and housing counseling to educational and employment programs. To address these barriers, the foundation supports immigrant- and refugee- serving organizations working to improve access to and utilization of quality care and services.

Foundation Efforts

Highlights of Current Strategies

1. Health access and navigation support to improve care and service utilization. Current grantees:

  • African Family Health Organization – Sexual and Reproductive Health Program
  • Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia – Family Support Services Program
  • Justice at Work
  • La Puerta Abierta
  • Nationalities Services Center
  • SEAMAAC – Health and Social Services Program

2. Medical-legal partnerships that integrate public interest law services into health care settings  to address social determinants of health. Current grantees:

  • Community Legal Services – Medical-Legal Partnership at Rising Sun Health Center
  • Philadelphia Legal Assistance – Medical-Legal-Community Partnership at Philadelphia Health Centers #3 and #4