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Illegal immigrants

Illegal Immigrants Create Far Lower Health Care Cost Burden than Previously Assumed

Friday, May 23, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: illegal immigrants, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) Latinos residing in the United States illegally are 50 percent less likely to use emergency room facilities than Latinos with legal migration or citizenship status, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"The current policy discourse that undocumented immigrants are a burden on the public because they overuse public resources is not borne out with data, for either primary care or emergency department care," said lead author Alexander N. Ortega. "In fact, they seem to be underutilizing the system, given their health needs."

According to the current study, Latinos without legal residency status are 30 percent less likely to have health insurance than U.S.-born Latinos.

Prior studies have demonstrated that illegal residents are much less likely to use all kinds of health care services than legal residents, but the UCLA study is the largest such study to date, with data from 42,044 California residents.

A common argument among those pushing for a tougher line against illegal residents is that such people provide a drain upon public health care resources. But according to Felix Nuņez, former director of the South Central Family Health Care Center, illegal residents tend to shy away from primary care visits because they are daunted by having to provide Social Security numbers, identification and employment histories.

"My gut would have told me that they'd be higher users of emergency services because they're not coming in for routine, preventive care," Nuņez said.

This assumption is not borne out by the UCLA study, which also refutes the idea that illegal residents use less medical care because they tend to be younger and healthier than the general population. According to the researchers, the difference in medical visits remained, even after adjusting for age, health status, insurance status and poverty.

"This kind of study is really important because it forces you to look at the data and rethink your assumptions," Nuņez said.

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