June 12th, 2013
Unauthorized immigrants have lower health care expenditures compared to legal residents, naturalized citizens, and US natives, Jim Stimpson and colleagues from the University of Nebraska Medical Center report in a Health Affairs Web First study released today. Over the 2000-2009 period, US natives accounted for slightly more than $1 trillion in average annual health care spending; all immigrants spent about one-tenth of that amount, or $96.7 billion. Unauthorized immigrants accounted for $15.4 billion of that total, or 15.9 percent.
Analyzing health expenditure data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey by nativity and legal status, Stimpson and coauthors found that just 7.9 percent of unauthorized immigrants had health care spending from public sources, averaging $140 per person per year. By contrast, 30.1 percent of US natives had health care spending from public sources, for an average of $1,385 per person per year. Average emergency department expenditures for unauthorized immigrants were $54 per year, compared to $138 per year for US natives.
The authors also found that an estimated 5.9 percent of unauthorized immigrants received care that providers are not reimbursed for, compared to 2.8 percent of US natives in the same category. They posited that this may be because unauthorized immigrants are much more likely to lack health insurance when compared to US natives.
According to the authors, their findings reflect “a history of policies that block access to health care for unauthorized immigrants”. They recommend providing unauthorized immigrants “access to preventive and treatment services for infectious diseases [and] giving them access to the insurance marketplace.” Federal immigration reform, they conclude “could also address immigrants’ limited access to health care, assuming there is the political will to do so.”Email This Post Print This Post
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