NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 4, 2007

The possibility that illegal immigrants -- about 84 percent of whom come from Mexico -- might soon get universal health care stems from a new approach to them by the Mexican government, say observers.

Rather than look upon illegals purely as cash cows useful only for the billions of dollars they send home regularly and the absentee votes they might someday cast for Mexican politicians, the new government of President Felipe Calderon actually wants to do something for its expatriates in America.

  • With illegals concentrated in fields like restaurant work, child care and household and office cleaning - plus fruit and vegetable picking - any diseases they carry are likely to be transmitted quickly to the general populace.
  • Yet, a University of California study found that as of just two years ago, Mexican immigrants were less likely than any other ethnic group in California to seek regular preventive health care.
  • That's why even though Mexican immigrants generally arrive in California with excellent health, it often deteriorates within two to three years of their arrival.

To change this, Cordova proposes to have insurance costs shared among Mexican workers, their American employers and the Mexican government.

Even though Cordova and other Mexican officials believe both the United States as a whole and individual states benefit greatly from the economic boost of cheap labor provided by Mexican immigrants, the tentative Mexican proposal does not call for any payments from American taxpayers.

  • If it becomes reality, a universal health plan would more than double the number of insured among Mexican immigrants in California from today's 43 percent level.
  • By contrast, 89 percent of California whites born in America now have insurance coverage of some kind, with 85 percent of non-whites born in this country also covered.

Source: Tom Elias, "A smart idea on universal health care for illegals," Daily Breeze, June 4, 2007.


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