As few data based on actual demand for healthcare services in vulnerable migrant populations exist, we studied service use and healthcare costs in a cohort of migrants in an irregular situation.
In this single-centre retrospective register study, we examined the reasons for encounter, diagnoses, service use and costs of healthcare among patients at a voluntary clinic for migrants in an irregular situation in Helsinki, Finland. ICPC-2 classification and national unit costs for primary healthcare were used for the cost estimation.
A total of 546 patient visits accounted for 620 ICPC-2 coded reasons for encounter, diagnoses and process codes. The most common health problems were teeth/gum disease (10%), acute upper respiratory infection (5%) and oesophageal disease (3%). Visits seldom led to complementary investigations (2%), follow-up visits (5%) or referrals (11%). The total cost of treatment, excluding dental health costs, was 71 euros per visit.
Migrants in an irregular situation present with a variety of health concerns, the majority of which can be treated in a basic primary healthcare facility at a relatively low cost. This encourages research to evaluate the health and cost effects of extending public healthcare for migrants in an irregular situation beyond emergency care.