Healthcare for immigrants costs less than for U.S. citizens, study finds

It actually costs less to provide healthcare to immigrants in the U.S. than it does to provide care to U.S. citizens, a study published in the journal Health Affairs reveals. However, the study also points out that non-citizen immigrants account for most cases of uncompensated care in the U.S. 

Lead authors Jim Stimpson and Fernando Wilson of the University of North Texas and Karl Eschbach of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston reviewed data from the 1999 to 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys and the National Health Interview Survey in drawing their conclusion.

The statistics show that from 2001 to 2005, expenditures for non-citizens were roughly 50 percent lower than those for U.S. natives. The authors also found that non-citizen immigrants not only have poor access to employment opportunities with employer-sponsored insurance, but also are unable to apply for Medicaid until they've been in the U.S. for five years (unless the Medicaid is covered in its entirety by an immigrant's individual state of residence). 

"It is likely that lower expenditures 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," the study reads. "We conclude that healthcare expenditures for the average immigrant have not been a growing problem relative to expenditures among U.S. natives." 

To learn more about immigrant healthcare spending trends:
- read the study

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