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Without immigrants, health trust would be insolvent

Friday, July 1, 2016

According to a recent study, immigrants contributed over $182 billion more to government healthcare funding than they expended in the period extending from 1996 to 2011. By contrast, over the same period, United States-born citizens drained $68.7 more than they contributed to the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, a pool of funds administered by Medicare for the benefit of more than 50 million individuals. Without the surplus infusion from immigrants, the fund would likely have become insolvent in the near future.
According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, in its report “Staying Covered: How Immigrants Have Prolonged the Solvency of One of Medicare’s Key Trust Funds and Subsidized Care for U.S. Seniors,” Medicare’s core trust fund pays the hospitalization and home health care bills for nearly a sixth of the U.S. population.  The average annual surplus of $11.4 billion from immigrants is largely what kept the fund afloat over the 15 years studied; and in no year of the study did immigrants expend more health care funds than they contributed. Even during the worst years of the recession, when Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund was running a deficit – all combined contributions were too little to cover total expenditures between 2008 and 2011 – immigrants expended less than they contributed. Without immigrant participation in Medicare, the core fund would likely have hit insolvency levels by 2027.
The report makes it clear that, contrary to being a drain on government benefits, immigrants actually contribute more dollars to funding the health care of U.S. citizens than native-born Americans do. Combined with the amount of money immigrant-founded and operated businesses contribute to the economy and the rate at which immigrants start new business – more than twice that of U.S.-born entrepreneurs -- the report goes a long way toward eviscerating the arguments that opponents of immigration reform hang their hats on. In fact, immigration reform naysayers seem to be advocating for the opposite: a stagnating economy and a bankrupt Medicare system.

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