Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ilegal Immigrants Don't Cause Problems in the Health Care System

A new study shows that illegal immigrants don't cause the problems we see in the health care system.

Illegal immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries are 50% less likely than U.S.-born Latinos to use hospital emergency rooms in California, according to a study published Monday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

The cost of providing healthcare and other government services to illegal immigrants looms large in the national debate over immigration.

In Los Angeles County, much of the focus of that debate has been on hospital emergency rooms. Ten have closed in the last five years, citing losses from treating the uninsured, and those that remain open are notorious for backlogs.

By federal law, hospitals must treat every emergency, regardless of a person's insurance -- or immigration -- status. Illegal immigrants, who often work at jobs that don't offer health insurance, are commonly seen as driving both the closures and the crowding.

But the study found that while illegal immigrants are indeed less likely to be insured, they are also less likely to visit a doctor, clinic or emergency room.

"The current policy discourse that undocumented immigrants are a burden on the public because they overuse public resources is not borne out with data, for either primary care or emergency department care," said Alexander N. Ortega, an associate professor at UCLA's School of Public Health and the study's lead author. "In fact, they seem to be underutilizing the system, given their health needs."


Premeir Mexican Pharmacies said...

Of course illegal aliens are 50% less likely to visit the doctors office than natural born Latinos.

1. They don't want to get caught and deported.

2. When in Mexico they live in much more harsh conditions were you may be worse off if you go to the hospital. Once in America, they still have that same mindset.

Gaijin42 said...

Note, this comment does not take a position on immigration. It is just a critique in the flaws of this study, and interpretations of this study.

I believe you are mis-interpreting this study. This study certainly indicates that the impact of Illegals on the health care system may be less than previously thought, it does not indicated that they are not the source or not a contribution to the problem.

Each illegal immigrant that uses the service results in spent resources that could have been reduced cost for legals, or free service given to legals.

For example, if we hypothetically say that the average legal resident has a 5% chance of using the emergency room per year (completely made up # of course), then this study indicates that the average illegal has a 2.5% chance of using the same service.

Now, multiply that chance by the number of illegals, and you can see that there is still a significant impact.

Also (and possibly more importantly) This study does not evaluate the demographics that affect hospitals. Some hospitals (such as inner city hospitals in the south west) will disproportionately need to service illegals. I would conjecture that in some locals a hospital or clinic may in fact be utilized almost entirely by illegals. Therefore, while the national impact may be absorbed, the local impact may be catastrophic. to compound this issue, those same inner city hospitals are likely underfunded, understaffed, and under equipped compared to the average national hospital, and therefore double unable to absorb this impact.