NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 8, 2005

A new study finds that health care expenditures for immigrants in the United States are about 55 percent less than those of U.S. native-born residents, says the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH).

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 21,241 participants in the 1998 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, without distinguishing between documented and undocumented immigrants. According to AJPH:

  • Immigrants on average received about $1,139 in health care in 1998, compared with $2,546 for native-born residents.
  • Immigrant health care expenditures totaled $39.5 billion in 1998, with $25 billion reimbursed by private health insurers, $11.7 billion by government programs and $2.8 billion paid out of pocket.
  • Latino, black and white immigrants spent, on average, $962, $1,030 and $1,747, respectively, on health care in 1998, while native-born Latinos, blacks and whites spent $1,870, $2,524 and $3,117.
  • Immigrant children had 74 percent lower per capita health care expenditures than U.S.-born children; however, emergency department expenditures were more than 3 times higher for immigrant children than for U.S.-born children.
  • Although immigrants accounted for 10 percent of the U.S. population in 1998, they accounted for only 8 percent of U.S. health care costs and 24.6 percent lacked health insurance.

Overall, researchers say they have no reason to think that expenditures for immigrant care have gone up in recent years. The truth is, immigrants are actually helping to subsidize care for the rest of us, says AJPH.

Source: Sarita A. Mohanty et al., "Health Care Expenditures of Immigrants in the United States: A Nationally Representative Analysis," American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 95, No. 8, August 2005.

For study abstract:


Browse more articles on Health Issues