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ED visits and spending by unauthorized immigrants compared with legal immigrants and US natives

Published:March 20, 2014DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajem.2014.03.018
      In light of the ongoing debate about immigration reform, a recent study found that contributions by immigrants to the Medicare Trust Fund outweigh their expenditures [
      • Zallman L.
      • Woolhandler S.
      • Himmelstein D.
      • Bor D.
      • McCormick D.
      Immigrants contributed an estimated $115.2 billion more to the Medicare Trust Fund than they took out in 2002-09.
      ]. Another 2013 study found that health expenditures are lower for unauthorized immigrants and legal residents than US natives and naturalized citizens [
      • Stimpson J.P.
      • Wilson F.A.
      • Su D.
      Unauthorized immigrants spend less than other immigrants and US natives on health care.
      ]. However, evidence for the emergency department (ED) setting is limited, where much of the debate on health service utilization of unauthorized immigrants is concentrated. The most recent study of ED utilization found that noncitizen immigrants used significantly less ED services compared with citizens [
      • Tarraf W.
      • Vega W.
      • González H.M.
      Emergency department services use among immigrant and non-immigrant groups in the United States.
      ]. However, that study did not have an estimate for unauthorized immigrants. Given the continuing debate about the impact of immigrants on the health system, especially the potential impact of unauthorized immigrants, we compared differences in ED utilization and medical expenditures by nativity and legal status.
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      References

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