The Effects of Immigrants on Health Care
Public Health Risk
- The notion of immigrants being a public health risk primarily applies to illegal immigrants, who do not receive screening when they enter the country. Many illegal immigrants also do not go to see doctors as a result of their fear of being sent back home, and so they contract diseases and are forced to live with them. Many fear that this burdens the health care system and poses a health risk to other legal citizens, who could easily catch a contagious disease.
Health Care Usage
- A study by the University of Arizona in 2005 analyzed the number of immigrants who use health care services and compared it to native-born citizens. The study found that immigrants are much less likely to use health care services, even in the case of legal immigrants who can legally use Medicare and Medicaid. For example, in the case of immigrants under the age of 65, the amount of money spent on health care was 30 to 75 percent lower than that of native-born citizens.
- One potential reason that immigrants do not use health care services as often as native-born citizens is that there are certain policy barriers that may be confusing or difficult for immigrants. The laws revolving around immigration and health care are constantly changing, and when this is compounded with language barriers and cultural differences, immigrants have a difficult time figuring out what types of care that they can receive. A study by the Kaiser Foundation in 2003 revealed that language and citizenship status have huge impacts on the health care that children receive.
- Illegal immigrants cannot get health insurance, and they usually go straight to the emergency rooms in the case of emergency instead of seeing doctors during the early stages of an illness. In regard to legal immigrants, they are eligible to receive certain government programs and insurance policies, but these are not the same benefits as native-born citizens. However, the presence of uninsured individuals in the country poses a huge burden for curbing the spread of curable diseases and illnesses.