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HomeIllinois NewsThe cost of American non-citizens' health care

The cost of American non-citizens’ health care




A recent Forbes article spells out what few want to discuss about the cost of providing health care for what the article calls "unauthorized immigrants."

But aren't non-citizens restricted from health care programs designed for American citizens like Medicaid or Obamacare? 

The devil's into details, the saying goes.

In reality, the author says, non-citizens' health care is costing Americans $18.5 billion every year:

Current federal policy is to prohibit federal tax funding of health care to unauthorized immigrants through either Medicaid or Obamacare. Nevertheless, rough estimates suggest that the nation's 3.9 million uninsured immigrants who are unauthorized likely receive about $4.6 billion in health services paid for by federal taxes, $2.8 billion in health services financed by state and local taxpayers, another $3.0 bankrolled through "cost-shifting" i.e., higher payments by insured patients to cover hospital uncompensated care losses, and roughly $1.5 billion in physician charity care. In addition to these amounts, unauthorized immigrants likely benefit from at least $0.9 billion in implicit federal subsidies due to the tax exemption for nonprofit hospitals and another $5.7 billion in tax expenditures from the employer tax exclusion.

All told, Americans cross-subsidize health care for unauthorized immigrants to the tune of $18.5 billion a year . Of this total, federal taxpayers provided $11.2 billion in subsidized care to unauthorized immigrants in 2016 

The article's author, Chris Conover, concludes: 

When we sum all the figures, including $11.9 billion for the uninsured and another $6.6 billion in tax subsidies, we arrive at a grand total of $18.5 billion in subsidized health care for all unauthorized immigrants in 2016. This amounts to $57 per U.S. resident. The share that concerns me the most–$11.2 billion borne by federal taxpayers–amounts to $34 per U.S. resident. Admittedly, one could argue that since the amounts at stake are so small, this is not an issue worth fighting about. However, it is precisely that sort of thinking that has led us to today's dismal reality that unfunded liabilities facing Uncle Sam now are roughly $200 trillion and rising.


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  1. Back in 1994 – testifying before the US Commission on Immigration, at their Chicago hearings – I pointed out that more than a dozen hospitals in Southern California had gone out of business, because their massive influx of illegal aliens – were using Emergency Rooms as their home doctors – and never paying.
    But Republicans and conservatives didn’t care – because they didn’t want to be called “racists.”
    But now they want to close the door after the horse has left the barn.
    I am just laughing about this – in a rather sad way.
    See this:
    I hate to say, “I told you so.” But, “I told you so.”