Date of Publication

Spring 1-17-2018


Introduction. Healthcare within the United States has been at the forefront of public discussion and political representation in recent years, particularly as it relates to healthcare access and barriers to said access. Focus has been placed on low-income groups that most generally represent the face of the average American, but this leaves the question: How are new Americans faring, and do their struggles match those faced by the rest of the country? The new Americans of Burlington, Vermont serve as a small window into a unique refugee population’s experiences with healthcare in the United States.

Methods. A focus group consisting of 8 women was hosted on-site at the Burlington Housing Authority Franklin Square apartments. Questions were designed to determine demographic data as well facilitate subjective discussion on participants’ healthcare experiences. Translation services were provided by the resident manager.

Results. Languages spoken were Mai Mai, Swahili, and English. Five major themes for healthcare access barriers were identified: language barriers, having children, transportation barriers, financial barriers, and a lack of preventative care. Sub- themes were also identified, which formed a taxonomy of barriers to healthcare access among the representative population.

Discussion/Conclusions. The difficulties faced by new Americans are numerous and interrelated, leading to a perpetual cycle of insufficient healthcare. Throughout the discussion, the financial burden of healthcare was regularly raised as one of the most prominent issues faced. This concern matches with those found in similar, previous studies, that have analyzed the difficulties faced by the rest of America.


Molly Moore

UVM Larner College of Medicine

Taylor Puckhaber

Burlington Housing Authority


Access to Health Services, Disability and Health, Social Determinants of Health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

Assessing Barriers to Health Care Access for New Americans