To the Editor:
In the commentary “Reality check: immigrants and their health care” (issue 36, Aug. 29–Sept. 4), the author, Dr. Michele Waslin, writes that “immigration is being used as a way to jam a stick into the wheels of impending reform.”
I know of no one who is arguing that the United States is spending too much on health care for immigrants. The issue here is illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants make up over nine million of the purported 45.6 million uninsured.
According to “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States,” a Census Bureau report published in August 2008, there were 45.6 million persons in the United States who did not have health insurance in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available. However, the report states that 9.7 million of these uninsured persons were not U.S. citizens.
Waslin states, “Nearly four in five of California’s uninsured adults and children were citizens and legal immigrants.” That means that 20 percent of the uninsured were not citizens or legal immigrants, a figure which closely concurs with the Census Bureau figures of 9.7 million [out] of 45.6 million.
Now that we have fairly defined [the distinction between] immigrant and illegal immigrant, we can consider who is and who is not a drain on the health system.
Visit an emergency room in any hospital and you will see where illegal immigrants get their medical care. This care, often for minor ailments, is billed by hospitals at grossly high ER rates, costing hospitals and tax payers many times what a normal clinic would charge. It is very unlikely that any of these visitors can or will ever pay for the care they are receiving. It is passed onto you and me in the form of higher taxes, insurance costs, and medical bills.
For [a] doctor to try to make an argument confusing the effects of illegal immigrants with those of legal immigrants is deceptive and fraudulent.
— William Turnbull, Kent