Study: Immigrants pay more in private health premiums than they receive in benefits

A recent study published in Health Affairs, found that immigrants covered by private and employer-based health insurance contributed $24.7 billion more in premiums than was spent on their health care in 2014. Of that surplus, the study estimates that nearly $8 billion was contributed by immigrants without legal status. During 2014, immigrants contributed 12.6 percent of premiums to private insurers, while accounting for only 9.1 percent of insurer expenditures.

By comparison, US-born enrollees spent nearly $25 billion more than they paid in premiums.

The authors of the study say that this surplus is likely due to there being a relatively young and healthy pool of immigrants, as well as an overall reluctance among the group to seek care. They also point out that actions attempting to limit immigration, may limit the number of individuals contributing to the surplus which offsets the deficit created by US-born enrollees.

“These findings suggest that policies curtailing immigration could reduce the numbers of “actuarially desirable” people with private insurance, thereby weakening the risk pool,” reads the study.

The Los Angeles Times reports that in California, on average, immigrants contributed $795 more per enrollee to private insurance than the benefits they received. However, U.S. born residents in California spent $245 more than they contributed.

Image courtesy of the California Health Care Foundation