NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 29, 2005

The Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation found that 19 million Americans go without insurance for a full year. Many, however, are illegal immigrants, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

States with the highest concentrations of uninsured tend to be the border states with Mexico and their neighbors, and other states where there are large populations of illegal immigrants (New York, Florida, Illinois).

Those who count say there might be as many as 11 million illegal immigrants in this country. Of the 19 million (or whatever figure is chosen for the point of argument) who go without insurance for a full year, how many of them are undocumented workers? It's impossible to know exactly. But in any case, it would be a large share, says IBD.

What we do know is uninsured undocumented workers are breaking local governments:

  • In Southern California they have contributed to the $1.2 billion deficit that is plaguing the Los Angeles County Health Department.
  • Last year alone the county spent $340 million to treat uninsured patients while the state was saddled with $1.4 billion in unreimbursed health care costs.
  • Texas spent $850 million for the same reason, while in Arizona, the price tag was $400 million.

How to solve this? One answer is to deny treatment to patients who cannot prove their citizenship or show that they have health insurance. That is likely to prove to be politically impossible, explains IBD.

A better answer is to secure our borders and to put a lot of pressure on Mexico to fix its economy. As long as opportunities here are so much better than opportunities there, desperate people will take the risk to cross illegally. And our health care problem will only get worse, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Uninsured And Unlawful," Investor's Business Daily, April 29, 2005; and Survey of Income and Program Participation, U.S. Census Bureau, July 8, 2004.

For Census survey:


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