Dispelling the myths about immigrants and health care reform

The American Immigration Lawyers Association provided some important facts to counter the myths and misinformation about the effect of immigrants on health care in the U.S.

As the US Congress debate options about health care reform, some anti-immigrant voices are claiming that immigrants have a  negative impact on our health care system.  Remember, it was this issue that Joe (“You Lie”) Wilson claimed to have caused his embarrassing outburst at the Presidential address.  To address these issues with facts, consider these  mythbusting facts:

FACT: The more people who pay into a health insurance system, the more everyone benefits.  The primary purpose of health insurance is to pool risks, using premiums collected from the healthy to pay for the medical care of those who need it.

FACT: U.S. citizens compose the majority of those who are uninsured. U.S. citizens make up the majority of the uninsured (78%), while legal and undocumented immigrants account for 22% of the nonelderly uninsured.

FACT: Immigrants do not impose a disproportionate financial burden on the U.S. health care system. According to a July 2009 study in the American Journal of Public Health, immigrants use less medical care, and less expensive care, even when they have health insurance.

  • Immigrants’ per-person medical expenditures were one-half to two-thirds less than U.S.-born citizens with similar characteristics. Health care costs for the average immigrant in America are 55% lower than health care costs for the average U.S.-born person. Another study found that, in 2005, average annual per capita health care expenditures for noncitizens were $1,797—versus $3,702 for U.S. citizens.
  • Recent immigrants were responsible for 1.4% of total public medical expenditures for adults in 2003, even though they constituted 5% of the population.

For more mythbusting facts, read “Health Care: Sharing the Costs, Sharing the Benefits” a new report from the Immigration Policy Center.

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