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New Study Highlights a National Disgrace: Immigrants Pay Far More Into Medicare Trust Fund Than They Use But One in Three Is Uninsured

Statement of Sidney M. Wolfe, MD, Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group

Note: A Harvard University/City University of New York Health Affairs study published today shows that immigrants contributed about $115.2 billion more to the Medicare Trust Fund than they took out between 2002 and 2009.

It’s astounding enough that, according to today’s excellent new study, immigrants generated surplus contributions to Medicare’s Trust Fund of $115 billion between 2002 and 2009. But it is appalling that a third of all immigrants were uninsured in 2010. These are the same people contributing a surplus of well over $10 billion a year to Medicare for medical care. For them not to be insured is a disgrace. Even worse is the fact that non-citizen immigrants, contributing $10.1 billion (or 73 percent) of the total $13.8 billion immigrant Medicare surplus in 2009, were even more likely to lack health insurance – true for 44.2 percent of them.* We heartily endorse the authors’ conclusion that all people have a human right to health care. Tragically, health care coverage is far from universal in the United States.

*CPS data not in the paper.Non-citizen immigrants (of all ages) had an uninsured rate of 44.2 percent. For citizen immigrants of all ages, the percentage of uninsured was 19.1 percent.

NOTE: To get a copy of the study, contact Steffie Woolhandler at (617) 312-2766, or David Himmelstein at (617) 312-0970.