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RAND study shows little public money spent on health care to undocumented immigrants

Just a small fraction of America's health care spending is used to provide publicly supported care to the nation's undocumented immigrants, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

Overall, immigrants to the United States use relatively few health services, primarily because they are generally healthier than their American-born counterparts, according to the study by the nonprofit research organization.

The report which appears in the November edition of the journal Health Affairs estimates that in the United States about $1.1 billion in federal, state and local government funds are spent annually on health care for undocumented immigrants aged 18 to 64. That amounts to an average of $11 in taxes for each U.S. household.

In contrast, a total of $88 billion in government funds were spent on health care for all non-elderly adults in 2000.

"Our findings show a relatively small amount of tax money is spent on health services provided to undocumented immigrants," said James P. Smith, the RAND chair in Labor Market and Demographic Studies and an author of the report. "Costs will be much higher for educating the children of undocumented immigrants, so that's where debate should center, not on these relatively small health care costs."

The other authors of the new report are: Dana Goldman, chair and director of health economics at RAND; and Neeraj Sood, an associate economist at RAND.

Smith also was an author of the often-cited National Academy of Science publication on immigration titled "The New Americans."

The estimates of public spending on medical care for undocumented immigrants are included in a RAND study that examined the patterns of health care use by the foreign-born and those born in the United States. The study provides the most detailed analysis to date of immigrants and their use of health services.

Researchers developed their estimates by analyzing informati
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Contact: Warren Robak
oec@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
14-Nov-2006


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