US immigrants' taxes, premiums pay for more healthcare than they use: study

A study published Nov. 9 suggests undocumented immigrants in the U.S. help hold up the nation's healthcare system.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, examined 210,669 respondents to the 2017 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as 2014 to 2018 data from the American Community Survey. Immigrants accounted for 14.1 percent of the sample, of which 3.7 percent were documented noncitizens and 3.6 percent were undocumented immigrants. 

U.S.-born citizens and immigrants paid similar amounts in premiums and taxes: $6,629 per capita and $6,345 per capita, respectively. But third-party expenditures were lower for immigrants' healthcare ($5,061 per capita) than U.S.-born citizens' healthcare ($6,511 per capita). 

Immigrants paid on average $1,284 more per person than was paid on their behalf for healthcare — and undocumented immigrants' contributions exceeded their expenditures by $4,418 per person. This led to a $58.3 billion net surplus of payments from immigrants, 89 percent of whom were undocumented. 

That surplus partially offset a deficit created by U.S.-born citizens, who paid $67.2 billion less in premiums and taxes than third-party payers did for their care.

"In this study, immigrants appeared to subsidize the healthcare of other U.S. residents, suggesting that concerns that immigrants deplete health care resources may be unfounded," the study's authors wrote. 

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