Immigrants pay more into Medicare than they use

In fact, they are kind of paying for citizens hospital care. The New York Times reports:

“The study, led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, measured immigrants’ contributions to the part of Medicare that pays for hospital care, a trust fund that accounts for nearly half of the federal program’s revenue. It found that immigrants generated surpluses totaling $115 billion from 2002 to 2009. In comparison, the American-born population incurred a deficit of $28 billion over the same period.”

Why is this? Most people are arguing that immigrants tend to be young and working age, and therefore contribute more to taxes than the older citizen population. I would also argue that it’s because immigrants use medical services much less. Recently arrived immigrants tend to be healthier than native-born Americans, and immigrants often avoid going to the hospital at all for fear of interacting with an institution that has a history of deporting them. Instead, they might rely on kinship networks to get the care that they need. According to the  Times, “immigrants’ medical costs were 14 percent to 20 percent less than those of native-born Americans, even after controlling for other factors like emergency room visits and insurance coverage, which fewer immigrants have.”

Overall, this report is very timely, considering that Republicans are trying to include provisions in the immigration reform bill that would deport immigrants who do not pay hospital fees. The proposed reform bill also includes a 15-year wait for immigrants applying for citizenship to receive access to affordable health care. Considering that immigrants may be contributing more to government health care programs than taking from them, they should be given equal access to these life-saving services.

If you agree, hop over to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and sign their petition. Once you’re done, tweet #4immigrantwomen on why you believe that #15years is too long to wait!

Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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