Study: Illegal Hispanics not a health-care burden

Despite the fact that many anti-immigration activists say illegal immigrants are a burden to U.S. health-care programs, a new study by researchers at the University of California’s School of Public Health found that illegal Latinos are no more burden to our health-care system than legal or American-born Latinos.

The study, based on a 2003 telephone survey of thousands of California residents, specifically found that although such immigrants tend not to have a regular doctor or other health-care provider, they do not visit emergency rooms – often a last resort in such cases – with any more frequency than Latinos born in the United States, according to a report by Reuters.

The makeup of the studied group:

  • 1,317 undocumented Mexicans
  • 2,851 citizens with Mexican immigrant parents
  • 271 undocumented Latinos from countries other than Mexico
  • 852 non-Mexican Latinos born in the United States

What researchers said:

One recurrent theme in the debate over immigration has been the use of public services, including health care,” wrote lead researcher Richard Ortega and his team in the report, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (pdf).

“Proponents of restrictive policies have argued that immigrants overuse services, placing an unreasonable burden on the public. Despite a scarcity of well-designed research … use of resources continues to be a part of the public debate,” they said.

  • Illegal Mexican immigrants had 1.6 fewer visits to doctors than people born to Mexican immigrants
  •  Other undocumented Latinos had 2.1 fewer physician visits than their U.S.-born counterparts

Conclusion?

Perhaps critics shouldn’t worry so much about illegal immigrants draining resources meant for Americans.

“Low rates of use of health-care services by Mexican immigrants and similar trends among other Latinos do not support public concern about immigrants’ overuse of the health care system,” the researchers wrote.

Undocumented individuals demonstrate less use of health care than U.S.-born citizens and have more negative experiences with the health care that they have received.”

Then again, illegal Latinos may have had fewer doctors’ visits than others, but they still had some, and in my opinion, any unauthorized use of social services meant for Americans is illegal and should be stopped.

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