NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Immigration A Factor In Uninsured Rates

July 29, 1999

Analysts have a number of reasonable explanations for the growth in the number of persons who lack health insurance -- which climbed from 36 million in 1990 to 43 million in 1997. Chief among them: rising health costs brought about by a swarm of new government-mandated medical procedures.

But some analysts point to an additional factor: the increase in the number of both legal and illegal aliens in the population who go without insurance.

  • From 1990 to 1997, roughly one million legal immigrants were admitted to the U.S. each year and about 300,000 to 400,000 came here illegally annually.
  • Census Bureau figures show that in 1997, 34.3 percent of foreign-born residents had no health insurance, compared to 14.2 percent of the native-born.
  • Uninsured rates have risen in three of the six heaviest immigrant-receiving states, New York, New Jersey and Florida.
  • A study by the National Coalition on Health Care reports that more than 20 percent of the populations of six states -- including California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas -- lack health coverage, compared to 18.3 percent of the nation as a whole.

Meanwhile, Mexicans working in the U.S. sent $4.86 billion to family and friends back home last year, according to a study by the Mexican government. That amounts to a remittance averaging $300 a month, which experts say could go a long way toward purchasing health care.

Source: James R. Edwards, Jr. (Hudson Institute), "Uninsured Immigrants a Drag," Investor's Business Daily, July 29, 1999.


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