Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Immigration and Health Care

Many of my friends are afraid to go to the doctor. They spend months afterwards paying the bills to the emergency room because they are denied access to preventative care. One almost died from bronchitis which turned into a nasty pneumonia. I also have uninsured family. My brother went to a friend who is a nurse when he accidentally cut himself. He used superglue to close the cut. He couldn't afford to wait for worker's comp to kick in and wouldn't have been able to pay the bills.

Immigrants do have a small impact on rising health care costs; alongside the 46 million Americans who have no insurance(like my brother), many of whom are working and don't meet the eligibility requirements for Medicare.

This article from the New England Journal of Medicine briefly captures the complexities of both the immigration and health care systems. The article cites several other excellent studies.

"Whether or not they have health insurance, immigrants overall have much lower per capita health care expenditures than native-born Americans,1 and recent analyses indicate that they contribute more to the economy in taxes than they receive in public benefits. In a study from the RAND Corporation, researchers estimated that undocumented adult immigrants, who make up about 3.2% of the population, account for only about 1.5% of U.S. medical costs.2 Many immigrants do not seek medical treatment unless they are injured or acutely ill; at our clinic, patients with type 2 diabetes often have florid symptoms and even incipient renal damage by the time their disease is diagnosed."

Health care is a basic right and ensuring equal access is the best way to keep our community healthy. For more info on health justice in Colorado click here and check out CPC.

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