The health care debate is raging across the country and some have falsely claimed that proposed legislation would cover undocumented immigrants.
It won't. President Obama made that clear in a recent interview below with Spanish-language journalist Maria Elena Salinas.
But I think it should.
I'm not saying the undocumented should get free health care. But if they were allowed to pool together and purchase affordable health care along with the rest of the uninsured it would wind up saving us money in the long-run.
People who don't have health care for whatever reason can wind up costing the medical system more. More often than not those without health care wait until it is an emergency to go to the doctor. We know that an emergency visit costs more than a regular doctor's visit.
A friend of mine told me about his cousin from Peru who was in a car crash about eight years ago.
He was in a coma for four days. He suffered serious external and
internal injuries. In the end, he wound up with a hospital bill of
He didn't have health insurance. He only could afford to pay a fraction of what he owed.
He was unconscious when he was taken to the hospital. There was no time to ask about health insurance.
Nobody asked about his legal status either. As a society we can't
possibly deny those who might die medical treatment because they don't
have a green card.
We know many immigrants lack health insurance.
Their study by Steven A. Camarota found that immigrants account for
27.1 percent of all those without health insurance, or almost one out
of three of the uninsured. But they lumped legal immigrants in with the
In an earlier study, this same group found 64 percent of undocumented
immigrants were uninsured in 2006, accounting for one out of seven
people without insurance.
Maybe they want to alarm us with these numbers.
People, regardless of their immigration status, will get sick, have children and have accidents.
If they don't have money, they won't be able to pay those bills. Then
those costs will result in higher premiums for people who do have
insurance and possibly higher taxes to pay for Medicaid and Medicare.
Wouldn't it be better to allow the undocumented to buy into the health
care system? If the Congress plans to come up with a way for U.S.
citizens to purchase affordable health care, then why can't that
include the undocumented. Wouldn't a larger pool of workers strengthen
The problem, as President Obama explained it, is that first we need immigration reform.
The president was interviewed last month by television journalist Maria Elena Salinas from Univision, and he said the following:
"When it comes to legal residents we want to find ways that they can
access preventative services, enrollment services, regular treatments.
So, I think there's a difference between legal immigrants who work here
-- they should have access to medical services. Undocumented workers who
are here illegally -- we want to create comprehensive immigration reform
so they can get on a path to citizenship. Until they do, we can't
reward them with some of the benefits which quite frankly cost us a lot
of money. There will be a lot of resistance when people who are
citizens and legal residents aren't getting these services and we're
giving them to undocumented workers."
Unfortunately, there is no political will to support a health care plan
to include the undocumented. Even though the president supports
immigration reform, there are a bunch of other issues he said he will
But the longer we wait the higher the costs will be for everybody.