Healthcare is Sick

Is there a cure?

An Illegal immigrant, heh? Well then your getting expensive health care!

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President Obama’s assurance that illegal immigrants would be ineligible for subsidized health benefits under any reform law was a political necessity, but economically it makes little sense, as the government  will continue to provide expensive emergency care anyway.  The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, passed by Congress in 1986, mandates hospitals provide immediate emergency medical care to people regardless of their ability of pay.

This care comes with a price tag.  Emergency physicians provide an average of $138,300 of EMTALA-related charity care each year, and one-third of emergency physicians provide more than 30 hours of EMTALA-related care each week.  Considering 60 percent of illegals are uninsured its safe to assume most emergency medical care they receive is made possible by this law.

Providing emergency care to illegals is especially costly in some areas of the country.  A 2000 study by the non partisan United States/Mexico Border Counties Coalition reported counties along the Mexican border lost more than $800 million in health care services for which they were not paid, about 25% of which went to care for illegal immigrants.  From 2001 to 2004, spending for emergency Medicaid for illegal immigrants rose by 28% in North Carolina.

Although slightly outdated, the point these studies make is still relevant: illegal immigrants need more access to health care, which is not only the socially conscious thing to do, but would also save money over the long term, as emergency room visits are more expensive than those to the doctor’s office.

Illegal immigrants paid an estimated $90 billion in federal taxes from 1996 to 2003, and contributed $428 billion dollars to the nation’s $13.6 trillion gross domestic product in 2006.[5] The least we can do is provide them care we would want for ourselves or a member of our family.


[1] http://www.petaluma360.com/article/20091001/COMMUNITY/909309936/1362?Title=Illegal-immigrant-care-a-hot-issue

[2] http://www.acep.org/pressroom.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&id=25936&fid=3496&Mo=No

[3] http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=113

[4]http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-01-21-immigrant-healthcare_N.htm

[5] http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2008-04-10-immigrantstaxes_N.htm

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Written by Chris Russell

October 2, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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