health uninsured rates among immigrants: far higher

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates, from federal household survey data, that the healthcare uninsured rate among immigrants is 33% vs the 13% rate for native born Americans. Over a quarter of uninsured Americans are immigrants. The high uninsured rate is high among both legal and illegal immigrants.
Many of course get health insurance for free from community clinics and hospitals under free care provisions. This adds to the cost of health insurance, as hospital free care costs can be made up for by charging insurers more. Universal health insurance coverage will effectively remove this transfer of costs onto private health insurance, at least health insurance for legal immigrants.
The CIS summary in full:
As Congress and the nation debate health care reform, the impact of immigration policy is an important component of that discussion. This Memorandum provides information about immigration’s effect on the nation’s health care system. The analysis is primarily based on data collected by the U.S. government in March 2008 about insurance coverage in the prior calendar year (2007).
Among the findings:
* In 2007, 33.2 percent of all immigrants (legal and illegal) did not have health insurance compared to 12.7 percent of native-born Americans. (Table 1)
* Immigrants account for 27.1 percent of all those without health insurance. Immigrants are 12.5 percent of the nation’s total population. (Figure 1)
* There are 14.5 million immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) who lack health insurance. They account for 31.9 percent of the entire uninsured population. Immigrants and their children are 16.8 percent of the nation’s total population. (Figure 1)
* In 2007, 47.6 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children were either uninsured or on Medicaid compared to 25 percent of natives and their children. (Figure 2)
* Lack of health insurance is a significant problem even for long-time residents. Among immigrants who arrived in the 1980s, 28.7 percent lacked health insurance in 2007. (Table 2)
* The high level of uninsurance among immigrants is partly explained by the large share who have low levels of education. This means they often have jobs that do not provide insurance. Moreover, their lower incomes often make insurance unaffordable.
* Cultural factors may also contribute to the high rate of immigrant uninsurance. College-educated immigrants are twice as likely as college-educated natives to lack health insurance.
* In an earlier study, the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that 64 percent of illegal immigrants were uninsured in 2006, accounting for one out of seven people without insurance. If the U.S.-born children (under 18) of illegal immigrants are included, they account for one out of six people without insurance.
* Among legal immigrants (non-citizens), 27 percent were uninsured in 2006.

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