Immigrants have lower healthcare costs than US-born Americans, study finds

Immigrants spend less on healthcare and require less spending from private and public insurance sources than those born in the U.S., according to a study published in the International Journal of Health Services.

The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Tufts University School of Medicine, examined post-2000, peer-reviewed studies related to immigrants' healthcare spending.

It found that immigrants spend half to two-thirds less on healthcare than people born in the U.S. The finding was true across all ages and despite immigration status.

Researchers said they found immigrants constitute 12 percent of the nation's residents but only make up 8.6 percent of total U.S. healthcare spending. By contrast, people born in the U.S. make up 90 percent of the nation's residents but 93 percent of total U.S. healthcare spending.

Per capita spending from private insurers for immigrants was also lower than spending for people born in the U.S., according to researchers, who reported that some studies they examined found no significant differences in spending or failed to comment on the significance.

Researchers found per capita spending from public insurance sources, too, was lower for immigrants, particularly spending for undocumented immigrants. They said this may at least partially be due to increased difficulty immigrants face to get coverage through public health programs such as Medicare compared to U.S. citizens.

The study also found immigrants made larger out-of-pocket healthcare payments compared to those born in the U.S.

"Overall, immigrants almost certainly paid more toward medical expenses than they withdrew, providing a low-risk pool that subsidized the public and private health insurance markets," the study's authors wrote. "We conclude that insurance and medical care should be made more available to immigrants rather than less so."


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