Are the immigrants a financial burden on US healthcare?

US Healthcare

This post was last updated on November 1st, 2018 at 01:17 pm

While over half of Americans consider immigrants a financial burden on the healthcare system of the United States, a latest study report presented a different story. Published on Thursday, by the International Journal of Health Services, the study revealed that the US healthcare services are used less often by the immigrants than native-born citizens.

A team of researchers at Harvard and Tufts Medical Schools and the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts, methodically assessed a total of 188 peer-reviewed studies since 2000, which were related to healthcare expenditures of the immigrants in the US. The study reported that the immigrants may actually subsidize some of the healthcare of US citizens.

According to the researchers, “Many Americans, including some in the healthcare sector, mistakenly believe that immigrants are a financial drain on the U.S. healthcare system, costing society disproportionately more than the U.S.-born population, i.e., themselves.”

The authors in the study said, “Our review … overwhelmingly showed that immigrants spend less on healthcare, including publicly funded healthcare, compared to their U.S.-born counterparts. Moreover, immigrants contributed more towards Medicare than they withdrew; they are net contributors to Medicare’s trust fund.”

The researchers also found that across all age groups, healthcare use of the immigrants was one-half to two-thirds of non-immigrants in the US. The report suggested that beside immigrants who attained US citizenship and documented non-citizens, the healthcare use was particularly low among undocumented immigrants.

The statistics of the report show that 12 per cent of the US population are immigrants, who only account for 8.6 per cent of healthcare spending of the entire country. It was also found that undocumented immigrants accounted for $96.5 billion of healthcare spending annually, while the US born spent $1 trillion.

“Per capita public expenditures were lower for immigrants overall, particularly for the undocumented. One reason may be that it is more difficult for immigrants to get coverage through public health programs than it is for U.S. citizens,” the study said.

As per the findings, the immigrants may be subsidizing private and certain public insurance programs like Medicare. As per the study authors, this is because immigrants are a low-risk group, which puts more funds into the system through tax contributions and premiums, than is paid out for their care.

The research for the study was led by Dr J Wesley Boyd, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

The review comes as currently, the Trump administration is considering new rule of making permanent citizenship difficult for legal immigrants, if they have used any of the government welfare programs.


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