Immigrants Contribute More To Medicare Than They Take Out

As Congress mulls changing America’s border and naturalization rules, a study finds that immigrant workers are helping buttress Medicare’s finances, because they contribute tens of billions a year more than immigrant retirees use in medical services.

“Immigrants, particularly noncitizens, heavily subsidize Medicare,” the researchers wrote in the journal Health Affairs. “Policies that reduce immigration would almost certainly weaken Medicare’s financial health, while an increasing flow of immigrants might bolster its sustainability.”

The Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which pays for Medicare’s Part A inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facilities, home health and hospice for the aged and disabled, had assets of $244 billion at the start of 2012 but is projected to run out of money in 2024 as the population ages, according to estimates of the Medicare trustees. It is financed by payroll and self-employment taxes.

The study examined the impact of 29 million immigrants counted in the Census on the financing of the Medicare program. It included those who had become U.S. citizens as well as those who hadn’t, but, the authors noted, probably excludes many illegal immigrants who dodged the survey.

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Source: Kaiser Health News