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August 09, 2006

Immigrants’ Health Care Costs are Low

Press Release; CONTACT: Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP);
Sarita A. Mohanty, M.D. (323) 226-5579 (office)
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D. (617) 312-0970 (cell)
Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D. (917) 899-5403 (pager)
Nicholas Skala (312) 782-6006 (office)

BOSTON - July 25, 2005 - Immigrants in the U.S. receive surprisingly little health care - 55% less than native-born Americans -according to a Harvard/Columbia University study that appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Immigrant children received particularly low levels of care, 74% less overall than other children.

According to the study, immigrants accounted for 10.4% of the U.S. population, but only 7.9% of total health spending, and only 8% of government health spending. Per capita health expenditures averaged $1,139 per immigrant vs. $2,564 for non-immigrants. 30% of immigrants used no healthcare at all in the course of a year.

Most immigrants had health insurance coverage. Though uninsured immigrants used the least health care of any group - 61% less than US-born persons who were uninsured - even immigrants with coverage used 52% less health care than insured non-immigrants.

Immigrant children received far less care in doctors’ offices (71% less than non-immigrant children) and received 72% less prescription medications. Immigrant children had a significantly lower average number of emergency room visits than non-immigrant children. However, their emergency room costs - $45 per child - were nearly three times greater – suggesting that immigrant children forewent care until becoming very ill.

The study is the first nationwide analysis of immigrants’ health care expenditures. The researchers analyzed data on 21,241 people in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s 1998 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which collects detailed health spending data on a representative cross-section of Americans. They used statistical techniques to adjust comparisons between immigrants and non-immigrants for differences between the two groups in age, race/ ethnicity income, health status, and insurance status.

Dr. Sarita Mohanty, who led the study while she was at Harvard and is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Southern California, commented: “Our study lays to rest the myth that expensive care for immigrants is responsible for our nation’s high health costs. The truth is, immigrants get far less care than other Americans. Further restricting their eligibility for care would save little money and place many immigrants – particularly children – at grave risk. Already, many immigrant children fail to get regular checkups, and as a result more end up needing emergency care, or get no care at all.”

“Our data indicates that many immigrants are actually helping to subsidize care for the rest of us. Immigrant families are paying taxes – including Medicare payroll taxes - and most pay health insurance premiums, but they’re getting only half as much care as other families.” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a study co-author and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program.
According to study co-author Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons: “Latino immigrants had the lowest health expenditures - $962 per person - half those of US-born Latinos ($1,870) and less than one third those of US-born whites ($3,117). The future economic success of the United States depends on a healthy immigrant workforce. Our findings suggest an urgent need for partnerships between health organizations and community groups to improve access to care, particularly for minority immigrants. This study shows that a national health program that includes all immigrants would cost much less than is widely assumed.”

At; http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/newsprint.cgi?file=/news2005/0726-07.htm

Posted by VisaLawyer at August 9, 2006 07:50 AM

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