Friday, November 16, 2007

Facts regarding immigrants and our health care system

Just the facts:

  • Documented immigrants--adults and children--must now wait 5 years after coming to the United States to apply for any public health benefits. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for public health benefits, except for some emergency Medicaid assistance at the point of service or emergency.

  • Five years after this rule changed, non-elderly, documented immigrant adults had experienced a 36% decline in health coverage.

  • From 1995 to 2005, the uninsured rate for citizen children declined to 15% from 19%, thanks to increases in Medicaid and CHIP enrollments.

  • During the same period, the uninsured rate for documented immigrant children rose to 48% from 44%, while Medicaid and CHIP coverage declined by 17% among these children.

  • Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia use state-only funds to provide basic health services to documented children and pregnant women who otherwise would be subject to the 5-year delay. States with high immigrant populations are among these states, including California, New York and Texas.

  • Many of the "new growth" states for immigrants, such as Arkansas, North Carolina and Iowa, do not offer these benefits.

  • The continuing belief that ineligible documented and undocumented immigrants are receiving massive public health benefits led to a provision in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 that now requires U. S. citizens to present proof of citizenship when applying or renewing for Medicaid benefits.

  • Only 16% of total medical costs for documented and undocumented immigrants were covered through public sources. In terms of taxes paid, the annual cost of health care for documented immigrants per American household is $56 and $11 for emergency Medicaid services for undocumented immigrants.

    • [Sources: Center on Budget and Public Policy Priorities and the Center for American Progress]



      Chris said...

      Larry, what is your opinion on this plan? It seems to be a compromise between an ideal single-payer system and the current profit driven system we have now. As I have thought about what type of healthcare system would best replace the current one, I first believed a single-payer was the best option. But, such a system is so inconrguent with the current structure, that I didn't know how it would come to exist. With healthcare spending occupying so much of our current GDP, I don't know how we could withstand such a monumental shift. The plan explained in the article suggests creating a government clearing house through which approved private plans could be bought. Payment would be subsidized so that all citizens would be able to afford the basic plan.

      I don't know that all Americans have a 'right' to the same healthcare. I value the health of all people, so I believe health outcomes should be similar for all social classes. But if someone can afford luxury care, then they should be able to buy it. As I understand it, a single-payer system would preclude that.

      More money should be spent on preventive healthcare rather than developing more expensive techniques to prolong the last 6 months of life. And, due to preventive healthcare's relatively low cost, it could be provided for all Americans within a basic plan.

      Larry James said...

      Chris, I will read the article. Thanks for bringing to my (our) attention. I agree with just about all you have said in your comment. I think the % of GDP (about 15+% today)devoted to healthcare costs is outrageous given our return on the investment. I don't think a shift to a single payor system would have much adverse effect on the economy due to gains in so many other sectors if this problem were solved.

      Larry James said...

      Chris, I read the article. Sounds like a step in the right direction and offers to get a serious conversation started. Business interests will be key to seeing any meaningful change. If the private insurance industry can be controlled and the consumers see good plans, like Medicare today, it could move us forward. I agree that if people want to pay for more they should be able to. My concern is that the current system is totally structured that way with much of the middle class and many of the underclass shut out.

      Chris #2 said...

      While some people don't get enough health care, others get too much. Not all medical care is based on sound science. It is estimated that between 20-30 cents of every health care dollar is wasted and not only because doctors practice defensive medicine. A lot of medical tests are real cash cows for doctors and hospitals even though they have not been proven effective. There is a new book out called "Overtreated" by Shannon Brownlee which is very enlightening