FACT CHECK: U.S. Health Care Resources Not Burdened By Undocumented Immigrants

A new study by the University of California’s School of Public Health finds that illegal immigrants do not pose as significant a burden on U.S. Health Care resources as is often claimed. Undocumented immigrants are less likely to have insurance, but seek out health care in much lower numbers:

“Low rates of use of health-care services by Mexican immigrants and similar trends among other Latinos do not support public concern about immigrants’ overuse of the health care system,” the researchers wrote.

“Undocumented individuals demonstrate less use of health care than U.S.-born citizens and have more negative experiences with the health care that they have received,” they said.

The study is based on a 2003 survey of 42,044 people. Researchers compared the health care habits of U.S.-based Mexicans and Latinos and grouped the results according to citizenship or other status.


Among the other findings:

Undocumented Mexican and Latin American immigrants “are 50% less likely than U.S.-born Latinos to use hospital emergency rooms in California.”

Mexican Immigrants paid “1.6 fewer visits to doctors” per year than by those born in the U.S. to Mexican immigrants.

— Other “undocumented Latinos had 2.1 fewer physician visits than their U.S.-born counterparts.”

Not only are undocumented immigrants not a burden on the U.S. health care system, but as Alexander N. Ortega, an associate professor at UCLA’s School of Public Health and the study’s lead author points out, they “seem to be underutilizing the system, given their health needs.”

— Dave de Give

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