These two aspects of our society might seem unconnected to one another, but they each impact the other. The question of whether or not to provide immigrants or asylum-seekers will quality healthcare is one often asked in conservative circles — where you might often hear how immigrants are sucking away the resources the rest of us put into the pool. “Our taxes are paying for their healthcare!” We’ve all heard those words spoken.
The debate became more visceral when President Trump issued a proclamation on October 4, 2019. This legal code guaranteed that only “wealthy” immigrants would be allowed inside the country. If an individual could not pay for the costs of healthcare (and how many people can do that without insurance in the United States?), then they cannot enter or apply for a Green Card.
Trump justified his order: “Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our healthcare system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs.”
According to an anonymous attorney from the Law Office of Ronald Freeman, “There is a disparity between the way America perceives healthcare and the way the rest of the world does. Here, we see healthcare as a privilege bestowed on those who earn it. In most other countries, healthcare is considered a human right. And this creates problems when we decide how to care for our immigrant population — especially when an individual is not an American citizen. Some of us feel we shouldn’t have to pay for it, but even if we didn’t provide immigrants with healthcare, we would face steep costs to the perception of our country on the world stage. Many times, this question ends up asked to a judge. So there are other costs as well. People fail to see them.”
The proclamation approved applications by people who received health insurance through an employer-sponsored plan, an unsubsidized plan on the market, and a few others. Those who were already issued a visa were exempt from the plan.
This proclamation was subsequently rescinded by President Biden shortly after his term started.
Biden said, “My Administration is committed to expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare. We can achieve that objective, however, without barring the entry of noncitizens who seek to immigrate lawfully to this country who lack significant financial means or have not purchased health insurance coverage from a restrictive list of qualifying plans.”
Failing to provide immigrants with insurance could result in rising healthcare premiums for everyone else. This is true for any American citizen who fails to sign up for coverage. When someone who cannot pay for healthcare goes to the hospital, we still have to provide them with care. They are the ones who are usually saddled with the debt, but sometimes it goes unpaid.
This is the primary reason why most first-world countries provide healthcare as a human right without the need for private insurance. It reduces the costs. That’s why our country has some of the highest costs of healthcare worldwide.