NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 13, 2009

On the surface, it seems logical to allow illegal aliens to purchase health insurance through an exchange that would be established under the House-approved reform bill.  Upon closer examination, however, there are many good reasons to bar illegal aliens from it, says Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

The exchange would be indirectly subsidized, maintained and managed by a massive federal bureaucracy estimated by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to cost $41 billion to $51 billion over 10 years.  Even if illegal aliens pay their own premiums, they are still accessing a government run "store" subsidized by American taxpayers, says Stein.

  • Uncompensated care for illegal aliens already costs taxpayers $11 billion a year.
  • Extending health insurance to illegal aliens would be even more expensive.
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.

Greater utilization by illegal aliens could impact health care quality for all Americans, resulting in longer waits at the doctor's office and reduced access to services.  Thus far, no Capitol Hill hearings have addressed this possibility, says Stein.

Allowing illegal aliens to participate in the exchange would create yet another powerful magnet for illegal immigration.  If non-legal residents can obtain coverage, people needing expensive care would come here, purchase low-cost policies through the exchange and utilize medical services that far exceed what premiums cover, thereby raising costs for everyone else, says Stein.

Permitting illegal aliens to access the exchange would also further accommodate their presence in the United States, creating additional arguments for a mass amnesty.  Amnesty advocates would contend that access to the exchange is tantamount to government acceptance of their presence in the United States, explains Stein.

Source: Dan Stein, "Don't let them buy policies," USA Today, November 12, 2009.


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