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]