Real Winners of Health Insurance Reform: Undocumented Immigrants

This is a (late) message of appreciation for Joe ‘You Lie’ Wilson and all anti-immigrant advocates who clamored hard to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Senate health care bill.

As a result of the adoption of anti-immigrant verification language in the final health care bill, undocumented immigrants won’t be able to contribute premiums to help finance our health insurance system. After excluding some 5-8 million people who can pay into the system and lower premiums, our health care costs are just going to be higher. Someone forgot to send the Senate a memo that hate might not be so financially astute.

Keeping everyone healthy, regardless of immigration status, is in our best interest as a country given that viral infections do not discriminate. But hate skews our perceptions and so we faltered as a country to cover everyone. Still, undocumented immigrants have every reason to be happy.

Undocumented immigrants can continue to access emergency rooms at no cost. The Senate bill would force those without proper identification to utilize emergency hospital services for conditions that could have been treated inexpensively if an immigrant had insurance and just saw a private doctor. Again, hate gave undocumented immigrants a free pass. Luckily for America, undocumented immigrants only account for 1.5% of health care costs.

The real icing on the cake is that without a public option, more legal residents and U.S. citizens would have to purchase government-approved health insurance as a mandate or face a penalty and possible imprisonment. But this mandate does not apply to undocumented immigrants. The last thing many undocumented immigrants want is to pay for a mandate without tax affordability credits. That would have been the really anti-immigrant reform to pass. But now, undocumented immigrants are exempt from filling the coffers of private insurance companies and buying barely-reformed health care under the Senate plan.

There may still be a chance to fix the bill to make it truly anti-immigrant in conference this January but in the meantime, thanks for hating us enough to give us a free pass America.

(Photo Credit: nitot’s photostream)

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