Immigration Increases Health Care Costs

John Vinson's picture

By John Vinson

John is a Senior Writing Fellow with CAPS. A long-time advocate of conservation and responsible use of natural resources, John is president of the American Immigration Control Foundation.

The writer's views are his own. 

November 28, 2014
The high cost of medical care is of great concern to most Americans. Insurance helps to ease health care expenses, but insurance also is expensive. Obamacare is supposed to improve matters, but the jury is still out on just how much so – if at all.
 
The reasons for expensive health care are complex, but among them for sure are our country’s dysfunctional immigration policies. These include our failure to enforce immigration laws, which allows large numbers of foreigners to enter illegally and settle in our country. Most are relatively unskilled and perform low-income jobs in the workforce. The same is true for many legal immigrants, thanks to a system that gives priority to family reunification, regardless of skills and economic status.
 
As a consequence, nearly 23 percent of all immigrants (legal and illegal) live below the poverty level, compared with 13.5 percent of native-born Americans. Given the higher level of poverty, immigrants receive a higher level of social services than natives, including tax-paid health care. An indicator of the latter is that 29 percent of immigrants are uninsured, compared with 13.8 percent of natives.
 
Illegal aliens are officially barred from most forms of government assistance, but they often burden the health care system by using hospital emergency rooms and in-patient care. By law the hospitals have to treat them, even if they can’t pay. To stay solvent, the hospitals have to raise fees for everyone else to cover these unpaid services. Their use of emergency rooms, says one authority in California, has been “a contributing factor” in bankrupting many hospitals in that state.
 
Legal immigrants receive health assistance from Medicaid, which is being expanded to provide for low-income people under Obamacare. Although illegal aliens are ineligible for Medicaid, the program still reimburses hospitals for some of their costs.
 
Immigrants (legal and illegal) and their children are placing a disproportionate burden on Medicaid, according to a recent study by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). The study found that they “accounted for 42 percent of Medicaid enrollment growth from 2011 to 2013, even though they accounted for only 17 percent of the nation’s population and 23 percent of overall U.S. population growth over this time period.”
 
Immigration makes health care more expensive for Americans not only with more taxes and higher medical fees, but also by making the cost of insurance go up. Additional costs come from the fact that illegal aliens who cross our border, unlike legal immigrants, are not screened for disease. Many come from regions where diseases which are relatively uncommon in the United States, such as tuberculosis, are more prevalent. After arriving here they will need treatment, and they also will put Americans at risk for infection.
 
Our country cannot afford to be the emergency room and health provider for the world – not if we truly want affordable health care for our citizens

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