An $18.5 Billion Reason for a $5 Billion Border Wall
It’s day 13 of the government shutdown as President Trump remains strong on getting border wall funding added to a spending bill that will reopen the government. As it stands, Democrats are unwilling to compromise on $5 billion. If you thought that was a lot of money, consider the annual $18.5 billion already spent on illegal immigrants’ healthcare costs.
Even though illegal aliens are in theory, unable to tap federal money through the Medicaid and ACA programs, there are exceptions and loopholes that cost federal, state and local taxpayers $18.5 billion a year.
The main exception is for emergency medical care, such as a heart attack or a car accident. The loopholes are everywhere. In both the Medicaid and ACA programs, the taxpayers subsidize hospitals for patients with no insurance but it does not distinguish between eligible expenses and those for illegal aliens.
According to Pew Research Center, there were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2016. Currently, 14% of the uninsured (3.9 million) are unauthorized immigrants who are ineligible for both Medicaid and ACA coverage under federal law. For purposes of discussion, I am going to focus principally on financing health care for unauthorized immigrants who are uninsured since we know that about 70% of care for America’s uninsured is uncompensated, meaning that ultimately it is paid for by society in one way or another.
Specifically, in 2013 (the latest available such figures), America’s uninsured generated $84.9 billion in uncompensated care costs or $1,257 per person who was ever uninsured that year.
Assuming unauthorized immigrants received a pro rata share of such support (i.e., 14%), they account for the $11.9 billion in uncompensated care costs, financed as follows:
$4.6 billion–federal taxpayers
$2.8 billion–state and local taxpayers
$3.0 billion–hospital charity care/bad debts arguably cost-shifted to private patients
$1.5 billion–physician charity care
Tax paying Americans are tired of footing the bill for immigrants who are unwilling to come to this country legally. Democratic leaders need to come to an agreement with President Trump on border wall funding because allowing illegal immigrants to easily cross the border puts Americans at a disadvantage. It’s time to put Americans first!