Study finds immigrants account for only 1.4 percent of US medical spending

A study by a University of Nebraska Medical Center researcher revealed that unauthorized immigrants have lower health care expenditures compared to legal residents, naturalized citizens and U.S. natives.

The study, which analyzed data from the medical expenditure panel survey taken between 2000 and 2009, was conducted by Jim Stimpson, Ph.D., director of the Center for Health Policy at UNMC. Results were published in the June issue of the health policy journal, Health Affairs.

It was found that U.S. natives spent $1 trillion on health care. By contrast all immigrants – unauthorized, legal and illegal – spent one-tenth that amount or $96.7 billion. Unauthorized immigrants accounted for $15.4 billion of that total, or 15.9 percent.

It also was found that an estimated 5.9 percent of unauthorized immigrants received care that providers are not reimbursed for, compared to 2.8 percent of U.S. natives in the same category. Dr. Stimpson speculated that this may be because unauthorized immigrants are much more likely to lack health insurance when compared to U.S. natives.

These findings reflect a history of policies that block access to health care for unauthorized immigrants, he said.

"Today, and persons who immigrated less than five years ago have few options for through public programs, leaving only the option to pay out of pocket or to secure private insurance," Dr. Stimpson said.

The safety net, he said, available for includes and federally qualified health centers.

Such limited access is not optimal for accessing quality care and finding a medical home, Dr. Stimpson said.

"These policies have merely shifted the financial burden of paying for the care of immigrants, and have potentially put the public's health at risk, when those who have infectious diseases defer treatment for illness," he said.

One way to remedy the problem, Dr. Stimpson said would be to give unauthorized immigrants access to preventive and treatment services for infectious diseases and to the insurance marketplace.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Immigration reform needs to address access to health care

Mar 19, 2013

With comprehensive immigration reform a priority for President Obama and gaining bipartisan and public support, there is a need and an opportunity to consider how the millions of undocumented immigrants should be integrated ...

Recommended for you

Even without kids, couples eat frequent family meals

34 minutes ago

Couples and other adult family members living without minors in the house are just as likely as adults living with young children or adolescents to eat family meals at home on most days of the week, new research suggests.

Health law enrollment now 7.3M

14 hours ago

The Obama administration says 7.3 million people have signed up for subsidized private health insurance under the health care law—down from 8 million reported earlier this year.

ASTRO issues second list of 'Choosing wisely' guidelines

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) has released a second list of five radiation oncology-specific treatments that should be discussed before being prescribed, as part of the ...

Bill Gates says progress made on new super-thin condom

15 hours ago

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said Thursday progress is being made on developing a "next-generation" ultra-thin, skin-like condom that could offer better sexual pleasure, help population control and ...

User comments