Left Out: Illegal Immigrants And Health Care

1176 words - 5 pages

Left Out: Illegal Immigrants and Health Care
Leah Karol
Clemson University


With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are concerned with their private insurance or the benefits with Medicaid or CHIP. However, there is another population that was left out of the new bill almost entirely: undocumented immigrants. There is an ongoing debate as to whether illegal immigrants should be eligible for public health care benefits presented in ACA. The two viewpoints are obvious: to give illegal immigrants health insurance and allow them to reap the benefits of a public healthcare system or to not. However, the issue is not so simple. There is a large group of ...view middle of the document...

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates the cost of $4.3 billion per year (Asbury, 2013). The issue is a tangled one, as the government and taxpayers are paying for illegal immigrants’ healthcare, but if there is an emergency, they need the life-saving care.
Those who oppose illegal immigrant health care also talk about undocumented immigrants’ place in society and the economy. It is said that illegal immigrants take American jobs, which is true. As of October 2013, 7.3% of Americans are unemployed, and that is not comprised entirely of undocumented immigrants (“Labor Force Statistics form the Current Population Survey,” 2013). Therefore, some illegal immigrants have jobs when some American citizens, who came to the country legally, do not. That fact can be blinding to many Americans, as it puts illegal immigrants in a negative light. People do not want them to have access to health care, when they are taking jobs that many believe belong to American citizens.
In contrast, many of those who support health care coverage for illegal immigrants think about the impact on American society. Undocumented immigrants will continue to seek care in Emergency Rooms and safety-net clinics that have always served low-income people, including the uninsured (Kenney & Huntress, 2012). Unfortunately, because of the inefficiency and stress of the system on this population, many immigrants are less likely to seek timely care. This can lead to poorer outcomes, more costly care, and a sicker population. The demand on these institutions will increase dramatically, especially in states with a lot of undocumented immigrants like Texas and California. The government has given $11 billion in funding to community health centers, although their budget was recently slashed. These centers can choose to serve this population (Kenney & Huntress, 2012). Since a large portion of the uninsured Americans will be illegal immigrants, some institutions may choose to not offer care to them.
The undocumented immigrant population is not an insignificant number, as they contribute to the workforce. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, it was estimated that there were 11.9 million undocumented immigrants in America in 2008. That is 4% of the population and 5.4% of the workforce (“Undocumented Immigrants in the U.S.”, 2009). Those who support health care for undocumented immigrants argue that these people hold jobs in the United States and are contributing to the society. Many have families that live here and need health care.
This issue is involved with deontology, the thought that the action is...

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