2005 June 09 Thursday
Immigration And Heavy Burden Of Medically Uninsured

The costs we pay for the medically uninsured are high and rising rapidly.

This study quantifies, for the first time, the dollar impact on private health insurance premiums when doctors and hospitals provide health care to uninsured people. In 2005, premium costs for family health insurance coverage provided by private employers will include an extra $922 in premiums due to the cost of care for the uninsured; premiums for individual coverage will cost an extra $341.

Nearly 48 million Americans will be uninsured for the entire year in 2005. What happens when some of these 48 million Americans get sick? Research has shown that the uninsured often put off getting care for health problems—or forgo care altogether.1 When the symptoms can no longer be ignored, the uninsured do see doctors and go to hospitals. Without insurance to pay the tab, the uninsured struggle to pay as much as they can: More than one-third (35 percent) of the total cost of health care services provided to people without health insurance is paid out-of-pocket by the uninsured themselves.2

To find out who pays the remainder of this bill—the portion that the uninsured themselves simply cannot manage to pay—Families USA contracted with Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, Robert W. Woodruff Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, to analyze data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the National Center for Health Statistics, and other data. Through this study, we found that the remaining $43 billion is primarily paid by two sources: Roughly one-third is reimbursed by a number of government programs, and two-thirds is paid through higher premiums for people with health insurance.

As the costs of care for the uninsured are added to health insurance premiums that are already rising steeply, more employers can be expected to drop coverage, leaving even more people without insurance. And as more people lose coverage and the cost of their care is added to premiums for the insured, still more employers will drop coverage. It’s a vicious circle that will not end until we as a nation take steps to solve the underlying problems.

A significant portion of the uninsured are illegal aliens and their children (who in some cases are US citizens). Another significant portion are legal aliens. Higher medical insurance premiums and government support for the uninsured are two more ways that native born American citizens pay for low skilled and low wage immigrants and their children. Hispanics are medically uninsured at two and a half times the rate of whites. The medical uninsurance rate is higher still among illegals and their children. Stop the Hispanic influx and deport all the illegal aliens and the ranks of uninsured would drop by millions and perhaps even by tens of millions.

Some estimates put the ranks of illegals as high as 20 million. Estimates for the rate of increase are around a half million a year. So a lot of the projected increase in medical insurance by 2010 is to support the additional illegal aliens who wll enter the US in the next 5 years and the children who will be born to the illegal aliens who are already here.

The additional costs for medical insurance due to the uninsured will go up much more in just the next 5 years.

Washington, D.C. Premiums for employer-provided family health insurance will cost, on average, an extra $922 in 2005 to cover the unpaid expenses of health care for the uninsured, according to a report released today that quantifies such costs for the first time. These added costs account for one out of every $12 spent for employer-provided health insurance.

The report, issued by the health consumer organization Families USA, projects that these costs will rise to $1,502 in 2010.

According to the report, health insurance premiums for family coverage in six states will be at least $1,500 higher in 2005 due to the unpaid cost of health care for the uninsured. These states are New Mexico ($1,875); West Virginia ($1,796); Oklahoma ($1,781); Montana ($1,578); Texas ($1,551); and Arkansas ($1,514).

“The large and increasing number of uninsured Americans is no longer simply an altruistic concern on behalf of those without health coverage but a matter of self-interest for everyone,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. “The stakes are high both for businesses and for workers who do have health insurance because they bear the brunt of costs for the uninsured.”

By 2010, there will be 11 states in which employer-provided family health coverage will cost more than $2,000 extra to pay for health services to the uninsured. These states are New Mexico ($3,169); West Virginia ($2,940); Oklahoma ($2,911); Texas ($2,786); Arkansas ($2,748); Florida ($2,248); Alaska ($2,248); Montana ($2,190); Idaho ($2,152); Washington ($2,144); and Arizona ($2,028).

Ouch. So the employers who pay medical insurance are subsidizing the employers who do not pay medical insurance. As more employers drop insurance coverage the burden will fall more heavily on the remaining employers and more of those will drop coverage. This could snowball.

Note that New Mexico, which is getting flooded with illegal aliens will be worst hit in 2010 with family health coverage costing an extra $3169 per year to pay for the uninsured.

We could reverse this trend by deporting all the illegal aliens and stopping more illegals from entering the United States.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 June 09 12:11 PM  Immigration Economics

John S Bolton said at June 9, 2005 5:52 PM:

The increase of this is definitely caused by antimerit immigration; no other population in the heavily uninsured category is increasing at such a destructive pace. An omerta is being maintained on the officials' enthusiasm for an influx which has to be carried on those who pay their way in the health care system. Antimerit recritment is guaranteed to result in disastrous rates of growth in the dependent populations. This can be seen to be also to be the objective of the officials, the increase in the discretionary power of whom, requires that this exact sort of damage be done, to the overall quality of population. For them, the worse the better; since dictatorship can be won by trashing the tenuous balance between those on net public subsidy, and those who pay for all this.

Kenelm Digby said at June 10, 2005 2:29 AM:

So, it looks like America actually has got the much despised "socialized medicine" that characterizes the United Kingdom and Canada?

D Flinchum said at June 10, 2005 3:40 AM:

Many individual bankruptcies are caused by medical bills. Some of those who declare bankruptcy have medical insurance but it doesn't cover a lot of the cost. What is happening here is that US citizens, who usually have some resources and fixed addresses, are being held responsible for these medical costs - to the point of financial ruin - while the costs of the health care for illegal aliens is being passed on to all of us, including those who are bankrupt. They still pay taxes. I doubt that most hospitals etc even try to collect from illegal aliens, who can simply disappear.
I am not suggesting that the US citizens should not be held accountable for their medical bills; but this seems to be another case of where Illegal aliens have more "rights" than US citizens.

noone said at June 10, 2005 5:21 AM:


"America actually has got the much despised "socialized medicine""

Yep,for many years now,leftists simply resent that it's not all run from D.C..

We will have a single national health care system soon...and open border libertarians will squeal around the internet insisting that their policies had anything to do with it,did not,uh uh,no way,wasn't us.

Randall Parker said at June 10, 2005 6:03 PM:


We have private medicine for most people but various mechanisms of government fundig for others. Our system is a set of different systems intertwined in all sorts of bizarre ways. Our system can not be explained in 25 words or less. But we do have a lot more market forces than Canada or Britain.

D Flinchum said at June 14, 2005 7:24 AM:

Zachary A. Goldfarb in the "Wall Street Journal" today cites the Employee Benefit Research Institute as noting:

26% of the uninsured are immigrants

of the 44.7 million under 65 without health insurance living in the US, 11.6 million were immigrants, a 70% increase since 1994.

about half of non-citizen immigrants lack health insurance

"the immigrant population accounted for 86% of the growth in the uninsured between 1998 and 2003"

one reason for the acceleration might be the 1996 welfare reform law setting a 5 year residency minimum for most new immigrants to take part in public programs such as Medicaid.

Randall Parker said at June 15, 2005 7:50 AM:

One other point: given the white-Hispanic IQ gap the poorer Hispanic economic performance is never going to end until genetic engineering and other medical treatments allow IQ to be raised.

babra said at September 29, 2005 3:30 AM:

look at europe,everybody has access to medical care.USA should learn it from europe.

pater tenebrarum said at July 11, 2006 8:29 AM:

it strikes me that this is a cost of socialism rather than a cost of immigration. if health care were a free market, insurance rates would be so low that even poor imigrants could afford them most likely.

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