â€œWhile illegal immigration isnâ€™t generally the first thing Americans think of when they think about health care,â€ Republican presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo has said, â€œit has a significant impact on the cost, availability, and quality of health care available to Americans.â€
A new RAND Corporation study casts doubt on that claim, finding that a relatively small amount of U.S. tax money is spent on health services for undocumented immigrants, who tend to be healthier than Americans. The researchers surveyed immigrants in Los Angeles County between the ages of 18 and 64, then extrapolated their findings nationwide. While native-born residents make up 86.9 percent of the U.S. population, compared to 9.9 for legal immigrants and 3.2 percent for illegals, the study found their respective shares of health care spending are 91.5 percent, 7 percent, and 1.5 percent.
Since Los Angeles has an especially large population of illegal immigrants, the researchers believe their estimate overstates this groupâ€™s use of health care. â€œThere are many legitimate issues surrounding the provision of health care to the nonelderly foreign-born,â€ they conclude, â€œbut high taxpayer burden is not one of them.â€