In recent years illegal immigration has become a significant political issue in the United States. Much of the debate on illegal immigration focuses on a viable path to United States citizenship. It should be pointed out that there are far more pressing issues which should be addressed in the illegal immigration debate. Illegal immigrants without health insurance cost American tax payers billions of dollars each year. Many state and local healthcare officials have reported that their systems are on the brink of collapse. The problem stems from multiple factors all converging including; federal policies and programs regarding medical treatment, the reluctance of illegal immigrants to seek medical attention when they first realize they need medical assistance and at a stage when it would be inexpensive to treat their illness or injury and the inability for border agents to maintain the integrity of the border between the United States and Mexico. This paper examines factors which have pushed medical systems and hospitals, particularly near the United States and Mexican border, to the brink of collapse. In many instances this has literally been the case, hospitals have closed their doors due to the significant increase in the number of illegal immigrants using services and who have no means to pay. While the issue of an ethically, morally and politically correct approach to take regarding a path to United States citizenship has dominated the illegal immigration debate, the impact of illegal immigration must receive greater attention by policy makers. The demands placed on medical services by illegal immigrants will continue to rise exponentially each year and will eventually adversely impact the quality and cost of healthcare for all Americans if left unchecked. This paper is a critical and objective assessment of the impact of illegal immigration on the United States healthcare system.
Keywords: Illegal Immigration, healthcare, medical inductry, citizenship, illegal aliens
JEL Classification: Z00, R48
working papers series
Date posted: March 20, 2008
McFayden, Elgie, Illegal Immigration: Impact on the Healthcare
Industry in the United States (3/20/08). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1111462