Monday, March 16, 2009

An all-American problem

All American Uninsured
Uninsured Myths No. 1: "The uninsured are illegal 'aliens.'" FALSE.

The ranting hatemongers who were so outraged by by poor Mariana de la Torre's theft of medical treatment claim that the uninsured are mostly illegal immigrants who jam emergency rooms and jack up health-care costs for the rest of us. There's just no truth to that.

As the Kaiser Family Foundation reported last year, 79 percent of the uninsured are American citizens. Legal immigrants account for about half of the remainder. The National Institute for Health Care Management estimated the number of uninsured illegal residents at 5.6 million, which means that over 88 percent of the country's 47 million uninsured are American citizens or legal U.S. residents.

In California, home to roughly a quarter of the undocumented immigrants in the U.S, the state hospital association told the New York Times that only 10 percent of uncompensated care was for illegal immigrants. Nationally, illegals account for less than 2 percent of national medical spending, according to Rand Corp.

"A lot of people assume the emergency room overcrowding problem is due to undocumented immigrants," Jan Emerson, a California Hospital Association spokeswoman, said. "That's not what we see. They show up when they truly need emergency care."

I'm a native-born American citizen. So were my parents. I don't have health insurance. I do, however, have a voter's registration card, and I use it.

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