Center for Immigration Studies: Immigrant families benefit significantly from Obamacare
by Carol Thompson
A recently released report by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that immigrant families benefit significantly from Obamacare. The study comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s plan to issue an executive order allowing nearly 5 million illegal immigrants to receive deportation reprieve under what is known as “deferred action.”
A key part of the Affordable Care Act is Medicaid expansion for those with low incomes. A new analysis of government data by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under age 18) have been among the primary beneficiaries of Medicaid growth. The data show that immigrants and their children accounted for 42 percent of the growth in Medicaid enrollment from 2011 to 2013. Immigrants benefited more from Medicaid expansion than natives because a much larger share of immigrants are poor and uninsured.
The report states that the number of immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) on Medicaid grew twice as fast as the number of natives and their children on Medicaid from 2011 to 2013 — 11 percent vs. 5 percent; immigrants and their children accounted for 42 percent of Medicaid enrollment growth from 2011 to 2013, even though they accounted for only 17 percent of the nation’s total population and 23 percent of overall U.S. population growth over this time period; about two-thirds of the growth in Medicaid associated with immigrants was among immigrants themselves, rather than the U.S.-born children of immigrants; and the increase in Medicaid enrollment among immigrants and their children can be roughly estimated as costing $4.6 billion annually.
The report also notes that by 2013, 25 percent of immigrants and their children were on Medicaid, compared to 16 percent of natives and their children
“Partly because of increased Medicaid enrollment, the share of immigrants and their children without health insurance declined more dramatically than for natives, from 28 percent in 2011 to 23 percent in 2013 — a five percentage-point decline. Among natives and their children, it fell from 13 percent to 11 percent — a two percentage-point decline,” the finding show.
Medicaid accounted for 41 percent of the decline in uninsurance associated with immigrants, while it accounted for only 24 percent of the decline in uninsurance among natives and their children.
Although Medicaid use among immigrants and their children is substantially higher than for natives and their children, it is still the case that 23 percent of immigrants and their children were uninsured in 2013 — twice the rate for natives.
Overall, nearly half (48 percent) of immigrants and their children were uninsured or on Medicaid in 2013, compared to slightly over a quarter of natives (27 percent).
Medicaid is one of the fastest growing segments in the federal budget and the state share in costs has left many municipalities grappling to find money. In New York State, counties pay a portion of the costs, adding to the burden of taxpayers not only the program costs but the cost of additional staff to process claims.
New York has the reputation for being an “easy” state to receive public assistance, resulting in scores of immigrants, both legal and illegal coming for the benefits. Studies suggest that many illegal immigrants use stolen or bogus social security numbers to obtain benefits and secure employment.
The Center for Immigration Studies overview was completed by Steven A. Camarota and Karen Zeigler.
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