Health Care for Illegal Immigrants Could Cost Up to $23 Billion a Year: Report

border health care illegal immigrantsDuring a June 27 Democratic debate, all 10 presidential candidates raised their hands when asked who among them would provide government-subsidized health care benefits to illegal immigrants.

The Washington-based think tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has since crunched the numbers on the potential costs and released a report on Oct. 10.

Under current law, illegal aliens aren’t allowed to participate in the health insurance exchange established by the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare. They’re also not eligible for Medicaid; although all immigrants can receive emergency services, regardless of status. And U.S.-born children with illegal immigrant parents are eligible for all benefits.

CIS calculated its numbers based on an illegal population of about 10 million people, half of whom they estimate would be eligible for Obamacare subsidies or Medicaid.

“Now, you might say that’s surprising, but I think there’s a pretty high degree of consensus that very roughly half of illegal immigrants have health insurance,” said report author Steven Camarota, director of research for CIS. “Many either have higher incomes so they couldn’t get the subsidies or, for the most part, they are insured by employers.”

If all 5 million of those illegal immigrants signed up for Obamacare, it would cost an estimated $22.6 billion per year, Camarota said. But, he said, it’s more likely that just fewer than half of those would sign up, for an estimated cost of $10.4 billion annually.

“Now, another way to think about that is for every 1 million uninsured illegal immigrants who sign up for [Obamacare] and get the subsidy, the cost to taxpayers is about $4.6 billion,” Camarota said.

The report also estimated the cost based on an Obamacare/Medicaid hybrid approach. With 100 percent enrollment, it would cost about $19.6 billion per year, or $10.7 billion with about half-enrollment.

“One important caveat about these estimates is, we make no assumption about how giving free or subsidized health care to illegal immigrants might significantly increase the flow of new illegal immigrants into the country,” Camarota said. “If low-income people in other countries can come here free and get health care, it seems very likely that that could spur at least some additional illegal immigration.”

He said there would likely be a major push to give low-income guest workers and non-immigrant visa holders free or subsidized care. And the current five-year waiting period for green card holders could also be challenged.

“If we gave Medicaid to illegal immigrants …  legal immigrants certainly would have to get it, and that’s many millions of people,” he said.

Jason Richwine, a public-policy analyst based in Washington, said the two factors contributing most to being on Medicaid—for Americans and immigrants alike—are a low level of education and larger families. He said 42 percent of immigrant families had at least one member enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 26 percent of native families.

2020 Candidates

The 2020 Democratic candidates have shown an eagerness to provide not only government-subsidized health care to illegal immigrants, but also a pathway to citizenship.

Former Vice President and current Democrat frontrunner Joe Biden said on July 24, “Here’s the deal: We have 11 million undocumented people in the United States of America—I would provide a path to citizenship.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she would expand legal immigration, decriminalize illegal border crossings, and provide amnesty to those here illegally.

“We need a pathway to citizenship for the people who are here and here to stay,” Warren said on Sept. 29. “We need a path, not just for DREAMers, but also a path for grandmas and for little kids and for people who came to work here on farms, and for students who overstayed their visas.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) says on his campaign website that he would also provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens, as well as “dismantle cruel and inhumane deportation programs and detention centers.”

Taxpayer Burden

Health care has become the largest burden on taxpayers by a mile.

Chris Pope, a senior fellow in health policy for the Manhattan Institute, said Congressional Budget Office data shows that health care was 52 percent of means-tested federal programs in 2008.

“By 2028, it’s going to be 71 percent,” he said.

Prior to Obamacare, Pope said the Medicaid program was mainly used for low-income disabled people, low-income families, and sometimes as an elderly supplement to Medicare.

“Really for able-bodied working-age adults, the Medicaid program didn’t really do that much,” he said, aside from a few states that tangentially covered some people.

“The Affordable Care Act really changed that. The Affordable Care Act ensured that the Medicaid program was expanded to able-bodied, working-age adults … earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level—which is probably about $15,000 for an individual. And then, for a family it increases … so it could be $20,000,  30,000, $40,000, depending on household size.

“These days, when you’re talking about burdens on taxpayers, it’s really all about health care that we’re talking about.”

Reprinted with permission from - The Epoch Times - by Charlotte Cuthbertson

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3 years ago

Hmmmmm. If we were to immigrate illegally to Mexico would they give us free medical care? No, actually we would end up in jail for breaking their immigration laws. Hmmmmm!

Diane Taylor
3 years ago

We can not afford to provide health or welfare for illegals

3 years ago


Gary s
3 years ago

Just what kind of idiot would think of such a stupid thing. Hope they are not running for office.

Pat R
3 years ago

How ironic. I just told a friend three days ago that if the Dems manage to get control in Congress at any point, their goal is to make illegals legal who will register as Democrats and they’ll be in power from then on. This article screams of flooding this country with poor people, giving them freebies and turning the USA into a welfare state. In other words, a 3rd world nation. And those politicians will be in power, at least until the money runs out. By then we will be communist country.

John Maxwell
3 years ago
Reply to  Pat R

Your right, blame the Democrats, they don’t want to change the loopholes and crappy immigration laws!

3 years ago

Heck, I live in “sunny” California where the looney Liberals care more about Transgender bathrooms than securing our borders! We’re the #1 Sanctuary State in the country where 50% of the entire Homeless population of the USA lives and unfortunately, 90% of all the Homeless are “white” people while the “illegals” get food, housing and welfare $$ assistance that “white” citizens can’t get! I’m expecting that Spanish will be declared as our “Official” language!!!

3 years ago
Reply to  Rik

Sad, but oh so very true and utterly disgusting. It is amazing, that as hard-working taxpayers and citizens, we had no vote in our “Sanctuary State” status or in our democratic generosity of free medical for illegals. This is insane and is not sustainable – for California or our Country.

3 years ago

FYI, Mayor DeBlasio in New York City has made the term “Illegal Alien” unlawful. It is a $250,000 fine to call someone an illegal alien!

3 years ago
Reply to  Julies

the term is from the U S code. obama tried unsuccessfully to change the term in the code!

3 years ago

They already have health care…if you don’t believe me check out the Emergency Rooms at the hospitals…they are having to deal with them and the costs are passed off to the people who have insurance as they up their fees. What needs to happen is ALL freebies to illegals needs to stop NOW. If the birds are messing on your porch and attacking you when you come to clean up, take the bird feeder down and they will leave. Same would happen with the illegal alien invaders.

Peter E Balsam MD
3 years ago

If politicians are so concerned about housing, education, food and health care for illegals, they should put up their own money to help. There is not a single leftist/progressive politician, administrator or government employee who has opened his home to an illegal alien (they are not illegal immigrants because they have not applied for immigrant status). I think our country should turn to fine Americans like George Soros and request millions which he can afford to support the illegals. I’ll bet the Clinton Foundation could afford some millions as well. It is axiomatic that leftists/progressives always insist that everyone/anyone else pick up the tab. It is so disheartening to note that; it doesn’t need to be publicized on TV, radio or the newspapers that those who criticize never contribute, it is painfully obvious to any rational and semi-intelligent individual.

3 years ago

I do know that this country is doomed if any of these Democrats running are elected President.

3 years ago

what part of illegal do the politicians fail to understand?

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