Immigration Effects on Healthcare

Effects of immigration on public health

While immigration has played an important role in US history, the level and size of immigration population have varied considerably. Even though many foreign born nationals migrate to United States for various reasons, the main apprehension is about illegal immigrants who come to US most often from countries with less developed health care systems and more prevalent health problems. While unauthorized immigrants have contributed to the economic growth of the communities, the social change and pressures on public services and are also responsible for inconsistent share of serious public health impacts and often depend on health care services for help.

Illegal immigration and public health risks:

  • Unlike legal immigrants who undergo various health checks before getting the permanent residence, the illegal immigrants do not go through any medical screening to verify contagious diseases that threaten the public with harmful health impacts of Tuberculosis, HIV and others.
  • Most of the immigrants get health benefits either by their employer, or employer of their spouse or purchased individually by them. As the health insurance costs are rapidly increasing every year, unauthorized immigrants with low skilled jobs are finding it very difficult to afford them.
  • Many towns and cities in the United States with high concentration of illegal alien population lack health insurance facilities when compared to other areas. The cost of the medical care of these uninsured immigrants is passed onto the taxpayer overburdening the financial stability of the health care community.
  • Numerous studies have shown that foreign born persons have relatively higher percentage of health impacts and exposure to diseases like TB and HIV than the US born citizens. In fact, US has banned people who are infected with HIV from entering the country in 1987, but the 1993 bill supporting the ban was lifted in 2009.

United States public health care system:

There have been many debates on disputes about how immigration is causing health impacts on the public and costing the United States on public health system. The inability of illegal immigrants to pay for medical insurance is no longer a problem affecting them, but is increasingly becoming an issue of national concern. The number of Americans without health insurance coverage rose to 49.9 million in 2010 from 49 million in 2009, accounted to 16.3% of the US population.

In US the health care facilities are mainly provided by private sectors though state, federal and local governments also own some welfare programs like Medicare, Medicaid, State Children’s health insurance program etc. For the fiscal year 2011, the total budget government spending expenditure is $6.0 trillion, out of which $1.1 trillion was allocated to health care system. Most of the health care programs provided by the government have restricted eligibility with limited services rendered to the public through them.