Study Sees Escalating Percentage of Uninsured Who Are Immigrants
Although U.S.-born residents still make up the majority of uninsured U.S. residents, the percentage of uninsured documented and undocumented immigrants is growing, according to a study released on Tuesday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the Kansas City Star reports.
EBRI researchers analyzed U.S. Census data for the study and found that immigrants accounted for 18.8% of uninsured residents in 1994 and 26.6% in 2006, the last year in which data were available. According to the study, 12.3 million immigrants and 34.1 million U.S.-born residents were uninsured in 2006.
The study did not define whether an immigrant was documented or undocumented.
In 2006, more than 46% of noncitizen immigrants were uninsured, compared with 19.9% of immigrants who gained citizenship and 15% of U.S.-born residents.
The study found several factors that contributed to the higher number of uninsured immigrants.
Immigrants are more likely to take lower-wage job positions that typically do not offer health insurance benefits, according to the study.
In addition, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 contributes to the figures because it mandates that documented immigrants live in the U.S. for five years before they become eligible for public health care and other programs.
The study also found that the longer immigrants lived in the U.S., the more likely they were to acquire health insurance.
According to the study, 58.7% of uninsured immigrants lived in California, Texas, Florida or New York (Kansas City Star, 8/5).
The study is available online (.pdf).