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Undocumented Immigrants and Healthcare

Many believe that much government spending is allotted to undocumented or illegal immigrants for benefits and resources like the ones granted to U.S. citizens. Programs exist that provide resources like healthcare, education, and housing and nutrition assistance to citizens who cannot afford these services from a private vendor.

 

Some undocumented immigrants would fall into the financial category that would make them eligible for these services, but are they actually able to receive them if they are not citizens? According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, undocumented immigrants are eligible for public benefits such as emergency medical treatment under Medicaid, education for children grades K-12, emergency disaster relief, and nutrition assistance programs. There are also community programs that do not require the meeting of particular conditions like immigration status or financial need to participate. Individual states have authority over some of these programs and can decide whether or not undocumented immigrants can be granted these services such as nutrition assistance. States can also contribute additional funding to cover services like emergency healthcare for undocumented immigrants.

 

It is estimated that the emergency medical service costs the federal government $4.6 billion and individual states add on approximately $2.8 billion more to fund that program. It is important to note that the emergency medical service under Medicaid is not solely for undocumented immigrants. This service is for anyone who does not have health insurance and needs emergency care, however, undocumented immigrants do account for a large portion of users of this service since they are not eligible for health insurance.

 

Many believe that this is too much money being spent on non-citizens. Some believe that this money could be better spent on border security and building a wall to keep out undocumented immigrants. Others believe that expanding services to undocumented immigrants can actually cut down costs. New York City is expanding their healthcare not just for undocumented immigrants, but for all NYC residents that need health coverage. Part of the mission driving this change in healthcare is providing preventative care to all so that emergency services decrease. The cost for emergency services like ambulance rides to the hospital, surgeries, scans, and tests are often more expensive than preventative health services like annual physicals. No matter which way you lean on this issue, we must remember that these services are offered to everyone, not just undocumented immigrants, and U.S. citizens have much more services and options available to them than non-citizens.

 

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