Immigrant Families Benefit Significantly from Obamacare

Immigrants and their U.S.-born children have been one of the primary beneficiaries of Medicaid growth, according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies. A key part of the Affordable Care Act is Medicaid expansion for those with low incomes. Immigrants and their children accounted for 42% of the growth in Medicaid enrollment from 2011 to 2013. It seems almost certain that immigrants and their children will continue to benefit disproportionately from Obamacare as they remain much more likely than natives to be uninsured or poor. The available evidence indicates that the Medicaid growth associated with immigrants is largely among those legally in the country.

The Center’s Director of Research and co-author of the report, Steven Camarota said, “The high rate and significant growth in Medicaid associated with immigrants is mainly the result of a legal immigration system that admits large numbers of immigrants with relatively low-levels of education, many of whom end up poor and uninsured. This fact, coupled with the extensive supports we provide to low-income residents, unavoidably creates very significant costs for taxpayers.”

The study reveals the following:

  • The number of immigrants and their U.S.-born children on Medicaid grew twice as fast as the number of natives and their children on Medicaid from 2011 to 2013 — 11% versus 5%.
  • Immigrants and their children accounted for 42% of Medicaid enrollment growth from 2011 to 2013, even though they accounted for only 17% of the nation’s total population and 23% of U.S. population growth over this time period.
  • About two-thirds of the growth in Medicaid associated with immigrants was among immigrants themselves, rather than the U.S.-born children of immigrants.
  • The increase in Medicaid enrollment among immigrants and their children can be roughly estimated as costing $4.6 billion annually.
  • By 2013, 25% of immigrants and their children were on Medicaid, compared to 16% of natives and their children.
  • Partly because of increased Medicaid enrollment, the share of immigrants and their children without health insurance declined more dramatically than for natives, from 28% in 2011 to 23% in 2013 — a 5% decline. Among natives and their children, it fell from 13% to 11% — a 2% decline.
  • Medicaid accounted for 41% of the decline in uninsurance associated with immigrants, while it accounted for only 24% of the decline in uninsurance among natives and their children.
  • Although Medicaid use among immigrants and their children is substantially higher than for natives and their children, it is still the case that 23% of immigrants and their children were uninsured in 2013 — twice the rate for natives.
  • Forty-eight percent of immigrants and their children were uninsured or on Medicaid in 2013, compared to 27% of natives.

For more information, visit www.cis.org.

Last Updated 10/20/2021

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