Tuesday, February 16, 2010
A New Study Disputes Belief that U.S. Immigrants Place a Disproportinately Large Financial Burden on U.S. Health Care System
A new article in Health Affairs disputes the widely held belief that U.S. immigrants place a disproportionately large financial burden on the U.S. health care system.
The study by Jim Stimpson of the University of North Texas and coauthors examined health care spending between 1999 and 2006 for both adult naturalized citizens and immigrant noncitizens, which included some undocumented immigrants. It found that the cost of providing health care to immigrants is lower than that of providing care to U.S. natives and that immigrants are not contributing disproportionately to high health care costs in public programs like Medicaid. However, with tighter residency requirements in public programs such as Medicaid, noncitizen immigrants were more likely than U.S. natives to have a health care visit classified as uncompensated care, although uncompensated care declined across all groups during the study period.
'Health care expenditures for the average immigrant have not been a growing problem relative to expenditures among U.S. natives,' conclude the authors. 'It is likely that lower expenditures among noncitizens are due to lower need for services and to increasing barriers to care such as fear, lack of insurance, or lack of a regular provider. These findings have important implications for both immigration and health care reform.'