Medical costs can financially break a family, especially if an illness requires extensive treatments and prescriptions. While insurance coverage at least manages some of these burdens, what happens when those who don’t have insurance are cared for? According to the White House, the health care providers are left in the hole, forced to tend to people without being reimbursed. The problem is made much worse by the many migrants and illegal immigrants who do not have medical protection, which is why President Donald Trump signed a proclamation that restricts migrants from getting visas if they will be a burden on our health care system.
The White House Statement reads: “In total, uncompensated care costs – the overall measure of unreimbursed services that hospitals give their patients – have exceeded $35 billion in each of the last 10 years. These costs amount to approximately $7 million on average for each hospital in the United States, and can drive hospitals into insolvency.”
The proclamation further states:
“Notably, data show that lawful immigrants are about three times more likely than United States citizens to lack health insurance. Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our healthcare system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs.
A report by the Migration Policy Institute said that 57% of immigrants had private health insurance in 2017 compared to 69% of citizens, and that 30% of aliens had public health coverage compared to 36% of Americans. From 2013 to 2017, according to the report, since Affordable Care Act went into effect, the uninsured rate for immigrants dropped from 32% to 20%.
Immigration in the US has been encouraged as long as migrants bring something to contribute to our society and not become a burden to it. The proclamation states that “Continuing to allow entry into the United States of certain immigrants who lack health insurance or the demonstrated ability to pay for their healthcare would be detrimental to these interests.”
The ban on immigrants without health care is set to begin November 3 of this year. It does not apply to migrants who are already in the country or other special circumstances, such as asylum seekers. However, it could affect spouses and children trying to relocate to the US to reunite with their families. According to the proclamation, immigrants will have 30 days to obtain medical coverage or prove that they have the financial means to meet reasonable health care costs.
What Chance Does This Proclamation Have of Succeeding?
While a good idea, the attempt to keep migrants without the ability to cover their medical needs will likely be met with a lot of backlash. Just as with most things the president tries to do, the left will be all too gung-ho to challenge it in the courts.
As it is written now, it is too vague and leaves too much room for interpretation. For example, the immigrant must provide proof of insurance within 30 days or possess “the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs.” Unfortunately, this leaves the door open for opposers to jump in and demand to know who will be determining what is reasonably foreseen and what is not.
There are still a lot of loopholes for immigrants to find a way to get around this proclamation, but Trump is continuing to work at tightening our borders. In August, he extended the public charge rule, making it difficult to obtain citizenship if the migrant is receiving government financial services such as food stamps or welfare.