Health care reform is setting up a tough situation when it comes to health care for the 11 million illegal immigrants throughout the nation. As more people become insured through the individual mandate, clinics and hospitals may become overwhelmed and start turning away people who cannot afford to pay. Unfortunately, this falls heavily on illegal immigrants and their children since a high percentage of this group do not carry health insurance coverage.
The new health law predicts that about 32 million uninsured Americans will have health insurance by 2019. Because this translates to less uninsured people being treated, the program cut the federal reimbursement for uncompensated care. Many illegal immigrants seek health care from community health clinics and they will be feeling the cuts big time. Many illegal immigrants feel they have no where else to turn except these health clinics which rely heavily on government assistance.
By the time health care reform is fully implemented, illegal immigrants will make up the country’s second largest population of uninsured at about 25% according to the 2012 study from the Urban Institute. Over 2/3 of illegal immigrants live in just 8 states so they will be feeling this impact significantly more than other parts of the country. The president of the American Hospital Association wrote a letter to President Obama last year stating that these affected communities have reached a breaking point and the government assistance needs to keep coming. Otherwise, more and more hospitals will be slashing services and offering far fewer beds.
According to the Associated Press’s article on USToday.com, the federal government has decided to expand Medicaid but it’s up to the states whether or not they will take the assistance. Hospitals are unsure if this will help cover the costs of uninsured illegal immigrants. It’s a difficult statistic to keep track of because many hospitals do not ask about immigration status. Some states have tried to keep track of this for accounting and reporting purposes but they have not been very successful.
California is home to the nation’s largest group of illegal immigrants and it’s estimated that the state has spent over $1.2 billion a year to cover the 822,500 illegal immigrants. For 2010, the New Jersey Hospital Association estimates over $600,000 was spent on treating the illegal immigrants without New Jersey health insurance coverage. With the costs of health care increasing, these numbers will only go up. Hopefully a plan can be put in place to help out these struggling hospitals to avoid them going out of business for good.
Written by Sam Tabes
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Tags: health care reform, health law, illegal immigrant health insurance, medicaid, New Jersey Health Insurance, uninsured