As health care bills make their way through Congress, lawmakers are debating whether or not to include overly burdensome citizenship verification requirements to ensure that unauthorized immigrants do not have access to health insurance. However, past attempts to implement these kinds of additional measures have prevented U.S. citizens and legal immigrants from receiving health care, while uncovering very few instances of unauthorized immigrants trying to abuse the system. In fact, research shows that unauthorized immigrants do not come to the United States for health care benefits or any other public services for which they are not eligible. These additional measures threaten to ensnare far more citizens than unauthorized immigrants and add unnecessary costs to health care reform.
As anti-immigrant groups continue to use immigration as a scare tactic to thwart progress on the health care debate, the Immigration Policy Center has provided factual information on why including legal immigrants in health care reform benefits all Americans. By including legal immigrants in health care reform, we can lower the overall costs. Refusing to accept people who want to pay into the system just doesn't make sense. Immigrants are the not the cause of the health care crisis, but they can certainly be part of the solution.
As policymakers debate the scope and form of the health care reform package now taking shape in Congress, it is important to understand the role of immigrant participation in the current health care system. Misconceptions about immigrants and their participation in our health care system abound, the facts demonstrate that immigrants can and should contribute to any new program. It is both good policy and common sense to treat access to health insurance for all as an investment in the nation’s public health. Categorical exclusions of any kind—whether of immigrants, redheads, or cat owners—are a mistake. It makes more sense to allow everyone to buy affordable health care.
Despite the important role that immigrants play in the U.S. economy, they disproportionately lack health insurance and receive fewer health services than native-born Americans. Some policymakers have called for limits on immigrants’ access to health insurance, particularly Medicaid, which are even more stringent than those already in place. However, policies that restrict immigrants’ access to some health care services lead to the inefficient and costly use of other services (such as emergency room care) and negatively impact public health. The future economic success of the United States depends on a healthy workforce. Therefore, policies must be devised that improve, rather than restrict, immigrants’ access to quality health care. Read more...
Foreign-born and foreign-trained professionals play an important role in the delivery of health care in the United States. This report examines the important role of immigrant doctors and nurses – many of whom have received their training abroad – in the U.S. health industry, using new Census Bureau data as well as information from numerous interviews with health industry experts.
The 1996 welfare reform law barred most lawful permanent residents of the United States from receiving many of the public benefits their tax dollars help to fund. Benefit restrictions have increased food insecurity and reduced access to health insurance for both legal immigrants and their U.S.-citizen children, while failing to significantly reduce government healthcare expenditures due to the high costs of caring for the uninsured.